A file photo of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | The pressure
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M.Arch has turned June in the life of a pandemic and the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi is completely unprepared to save lives. Worse still, it is now diverting the blame onto anyone and everyone, and it’s okay to falsify Covid-19 data to pretend everything is fine.
The whole point of a lockdown was preparing the medical infrastructure for the upcoming onslaught of Covid-19 patients. We had already seen Italy, Spain and the UK from March to April.
We had long been warned about what would happen in such situations: Lives cannot be saved. Lives cannot be saved because there are not enough doctors, nurses, ward people, oxygen bottles, ventilators, intensive care units or just beds. And when people die, there is a lack of hearses and funeral facilities.
On all these points we are forced to ask: What has the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, done?
Delhi wasn’t even the first to be hit so badly, it was Mumbai. If not in other countries, Kejriwal could at least have seen what was happening in Mumbai and prepared accordingly. Today we don’t have a single makeshift hospital just for Covid-19 patients. Mumbai has converted the NSCI Dome into one. Where is Delhi’s equivalent to that?
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Delhi’s wasted lockdown
Thanks to the indolence of Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi wasted its lockdown. All the suffering the city went through was pointless. All of these workers being laid off from their jobs and going home – they didn’t have to go through all this pain. Delhi is in the midst of community transmission anyway – the ICMR can repeat over and over that there is still no community expansion in India, and Delhi’s Deputy Prime Minister Manish Sisodia can use this to claim the same. However, the Kejriwal government’s admission that it failed to identify the source of infection in nearly 50 percent of coronavirus cases in Delhi tells us what no one would officially admit. The Delhi government was unable to wage a medical battle against an attack that it knew was coming.
If Delhi’s willingness was a backlash to the lack of cooperation between the Narendra Modi-led government at the center or the BJP-led municipal corporations in the city, Arvind Kejriwal should say so publicly. If that had happened five years ago, he would have easily blamed Modi. Today he surrendered to the Modi government and found other scapegoats such as the “outsiders” and the private hospitals.
If private hospitals today overload or reject Covid-19 patients, or intentionally fail to use their facilities for treatment, then you are accusing Arvind Kejriwal of failing to resolve these issues a long time ago because he slept behind the wheel.
At a time when he needs private hospitals to work together, he turns them into an enemy for political ends. While commercial-run private hospitals have a bad rap, Kejriwal has done it all despite the best private hospital in Delhi, run by a charitable foundation rather than a commercial building: Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
When Delhi’s Covid-19 hospitals became a mess, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government quickly released a mobile app, Delhi Corona. The implementation of new technological interventions is associated with teething troubles. So the app doesn’t work. It shows beds but the hospital says beds are not available.
The problem here is Kejriwal’s inability to understand that these are not beds, but all related special Covid facilities, such as B. Ventilation units. It takes at least a few days to convert an infirmary into an infirmary that deals with Covid and treats patients without infecting medical staff.
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One reason Arvind Kejriwal didn’t think he’d have a problem is that he got away with data fiddling at first. If you can hide the data, you can pretend the situation is under control.
Since the beginning of May we have been seeing news that the Covid death toll from crematoria and burial grounds does not match the official figures from the Delhi government. For every two Covid deaths, the AAP says one died. Similarly, while testing, when the positive numbers rose, the Delhi government slapped private testing labs and banned some, including the one at Ganga Ram Hospital.
We also saw deliberate sub-exams. On Twitter, a citizen complained that his sister-in-law, a doctor, could not get a test for herself. The testing lab she went to was only supposed to do ten tests a day – ten.
In other words, even frontline workers are denied testing. The AAP government has viciously scapegoated the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) on this test question. It presents itself as an unfortunate enforcement agency enforcing ICMR guidelines for testing.
The truth is that health is a government issue and the Kejriwal government is far from defying tight ICMR guidelines. She has issued her own, which makes her even closer and denies symptomatic contacts of compliant Covid patients the right to a test.
This brazen violation of India’s constitutional promise of the right to life was overturned by Delhi’s Governor Anil Baijal, and a politically castrated Kejriwal did not speak against the LG as it did five years ago.
Kejriwal has made data fudging a central part of his Covid-19 policy as data manipulation in the past has brought him rich rewards in the education sector.
In Delhi State Schools, students who do not do particularly well in academic fields are not allowed to take board exams and must instead continue their studies by correspondence. This has helped Delhi state schools improve their exam percentage to such an extent that they can run self-congratulatory newspaper ads claiming that state students perform better than private schools. Such a cranial fossa has remained undisputed in Delhi politics. Why shouldn’t Kejriwal’s data manipulation yield similar rewards when it comes to Covid?
The answer does not lie in data, but outside of the reality of graphs, charts, and meaningless percentages. We have gone beyond lies – white lies – and statistics. When corpses pile up in hearses, no one cares about data.
Unhappy citizens have to run from pillar to pillar, first to get a test, then to get a hospital bed, then to get a funeral. The Supreme Court says Covid patients are treated worse than animals in Delhi. None of this has anything to do with data. Arvind Kejriwal will soon have no more excuses. He created a mess and this time the setback is certain.
The author is editor of ThePrint. Views are personal.
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