The mismanagement of the COVID19 crisis by the Maharashtra govt under Uddhav Thackeray is supplemented by urban naxals, Islamist forces, political opportunists and section of media which thrive on misinformation and misery.
– Devidas Deshpande
Within days of writing about the sorry state of affairs in Maharashtra (Chaotic State and Clueless King), the inevitable happened. The visuals of thousands of people crowding outside a Bandra station sent shivers across anyone who watched them. The visuals were upsetting in themselves, but added to the gloomy occurrence of Chinese virus in the country and authorities involved in the Herculean task of containing its spread, it became extremely horrible. That the incident took place in the financial capital of the country, and political capital of Maharashtra which has already earned the dubious distinction of having maximum Covid-19 cases, made it the worst nightmare possible in current situation.
There is no doubt that it was a coordinated move – with ABP Majha, the Marathi channel of ABP group and know detractor of BJP and Narendra Modi, broadcasting a fake news saying that trains to Bihar were to start soon, a crowd chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ thronging near a mosque, then police coming into action, CM Thackeray making his umpteenth Facebook appearance and saying all sweet nothings, his son and minister in the state cabinet Aditya Thackeray blaming it on central government. The pretext of migrant workers seems to have come handy for the plotters of this script.
However, the real reason may be hidden elsewhere. Anand Teltumbade and Gautam Navalakha, two notorious naxal sympathisers, fall in the police’s net. Actually, they surrendered before police as asked by the Supreme Court of India. The members of urban naxals, masquerading as liberals, made a virtue out of this necessity and connected it with Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. Teltumbade being Ambedkar’s distant relative gave them a footing. A group of 40 intellectuals (read trouble-makers) held an online conference on same day (April 14) and condemned the ‘attack on free thought’. However, with all evidences going against him, the urban naxals have faced flak at every level of court of law and were asked to surrender before the police. Teltumbade’s purported arrest came on this backdrop. The SC had asked him to do so in connection with the Elgar Parishad case which led to riots on January 1, 2018.
The commotion on Tuesday was attributed to one Vinay Dube, who appealed to people through his Facebook post to the migrants to gather outside the railway station and demanded special trains to return home. Not surprisingly, Dube was found to be associated with Nationalist Congress Party and Sharad Pawar, chief of the NCP, has time and again backed the Elgar Parishad participants and organisers. Even the state government, in which his party is a partner, tried to derail the Elgar Parishad investigation though it could not succeed due to intervention of court and central government. So much so that Pawar was summoned for inquiry before the commission probing this riot on April 4h but the session was deferred due to lockdown.
NCP leader Vinay Dube whose Facebook post called for migrants to gather outside the Bandra railway station
On this backdrop, we have to see the commotion at Bandra. Since two-three days prior to the ending of lockdown 1, Dube was trying to mobilize migrants on various pretexts and had even met Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, who also belongs to NCP, in this regard. Within hours after PM Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday, the crowd came on the road again on Dube’s video appeal. Deshmukh claimed that these migrants might have expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would order reopening of state borders. However, there are many questions unanswered.
Firstly, CM Thackeray had already declared the extension of lockdown in Maharashtra and these migrants knew very well that they could not move out of Mumbai. Again, none of those thousands who gathered there had any baggage with them. Can any migrant living thousands of miles away from his home leave without any luggage? Thirdly, no train leaves to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or West Bengal from the station where these men had gathered. Importantly enough, almost all of these ‘migrants’ were Muslims. A couple of videos even surfaced wherein they could be heard chanting against PM Modi.
Actually anyone, let alone government machineries, could predict that something of this nature would happen very soon. The forces antagonist to nationalist thoughts, RSS, BJP and Narendra modi where hell-bent on creating crisis. The dreaded onslaught of Corona was not enough for them. When Corona cases got detected in lower numbers, they indulged in all sorts of nay-saying and derided India for its ‘low casualties’.
When PM Modi announced lockdown, effectively blocking the spread of Covid-19, they were quick to blame it as zero-plan. When PM appealed to people to contribute through their positive acts and appreciate service of health workers, they were first to frown. As the lock down exhibited its impact in the form of flattened curve of Covid-19’s growth, they asked for lifting it in the name of ‘sagging economy’. The sabotage coming from Markaz headquarters was exactly what they wanted and spared no effort to defend that act against humanity. The examples galore – from Vinod Dua to Nikhil Eagle, from Ranjona Banerjee to sundry liberals. Everyone’s social media profile is still replete with hate-filled posts & shares, urging to gullible people to ‘revolt’ against lockdown and throw caution to wind. Dua went on to appeal for a ‘civil disobedience’ and compared police to ‘Jallad’!
Urban Naxals and Islamist forces have also been blamed for flaming the passions of the laborers in order to target the central govt
Thus, they were always there to grab every opportunity to scuttle India’s remarkable advance in the fight against Covid-19. The directionless and nerveless Maharashtra ViKas Aghadi government provided these elements a fertile ground. These scrupulous elements struck gold in this ground and carried out Mumbai edition of Markaz- albeit in the open rather than in a confined environ as in Delhi.
This is why they were quick to blame central government for the failure of state government. “Surat, Bandra, Delhi incidents underlined the failure of Modi government to address migrant labourers’ issue. You need to be genuinely empathetic to find out some solution. ‘Bhashans’ are not enough,” quoted Wagle, who is lately acting as MVA’s de facto spokesperson.
From the day one, the Maharashtra government is grappling with the crisis and failed to make any concrete contribution in stopping the spread of Covid-19. The mismanagement is supplemented by the ignorance, arrogance and negligence. This is why the days ahead seem even more ominous.