The Baby boomers generation and Generation X would remember a song that played in the ‘socials and festivals’ of many Delhi university colleges in the seventies and the eighties.
Originally written by a Trinidadian calypso singer by the name Sir Lancelot, it was modified by many singers like Lord Melody. The lyrics had the following recurring lines:
Woe, is me, shame and scandal in the family
Woe, is me, shame and scandal in the family
The song comes to my mind when I see the acts of shame perpetrated in the state of Punjab under the nose of its powerful Chief Minister who not too long ago used to earn the respect of even his worst bête noire.
It all started with the ‘apolitical’ Farmers’ agitation by a group of powerful multi-acre farm owners. The left and its ideological appendage clearly fueled the protest against the three Farm Bills that were converted into Acts by the Parliament of India that the Congress party has now become.
The ‘aandolanjeevis’ masquerading as farmers have laid siege to the Singhu border at Delhi, and their congregation has become the most potent super-spreader of Coronavirus in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. These ‘aandolanjeevis’ practice no social distancing and wear masks under their unshaven chins with a sense of defiance. They have been spreading Covid19 not only amongst themselves but have been taking the virus home every time they travel back to their respective villages off-and-on.
Is it not shameful that none of the top brass of Congress leadership, read the Sonia Gandhi family, has ever appealed to the farmers to suspend their agitation to stop further spread of Coronavirus?
Another act of infamy became known a few days ago. A prominent website, India Today, has reported that in open defiance of Covid-19 protocol, the Punjab education minister, Vijay Inder Single, participated in a religious ceremony where a Covid positive preacher distributed Prasad to hundreds of people. This happened on June 1, 2021, when the country is trying to recover from the incapacitating second wave of Covid19. It is significant to note that the Education Minister was at the congregation as an enthusiastic participant. Is he not supposed to be the one to be educating the youth of Punjab to take all the precautions against the spread of the virus?
Another appalling instance that I want to mention here is the vandalism of telecom towers by the fringe group of farmers in Punjab. Even as the majority of small and marginal farmers were celebrating the fruits of bumper purchase by the Government of India, a group of villains, backed by their political masters, was destroying the telecom towers of one particular telecom company in Punjab.
They ransacked the BTS stations by damaging their active and passive structure and even burnt many bundles of optical fibre cable. Whether it belongs to the private sector or the Public sector, the telecom infrastructure is a national asset. It is estimated that the rampaging goons destroyed nearly 1500 towers. The Chief Minister of Punjab appealed to stop the destruction, and it stopped. This is wonderful, but why did the Captain not prevent the destruction in the first place? Why did he not set in motion an ordinance as Yogi Adityanath promulgated in Uttar Pradesh that provides for confiscation of properties of those who destroy public property? Captain Singh acted too little, too late. Such acts bring disgrace to every civilized society.
Another act that can put any self-respecting citizen to dishonour is the open display of political hostility playing out in Punjab. The fight is not over substantive issues but over matters of sharing the spoils of power. It is an ego battle, not a battle for issues that concern the common person.
At a time when the CM of Punjab should be busy leading the war against Coronavirus, he is busy fighting the precipitous challenge posed by the perpetual rebel of Punjab Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu. The media reports allege that Sidhu had always harboured the ambition of succeeding Captain as the CM candidate in the next assembly election and had therefore staked a claim to the post of Deputy CM. When that post was denied to Sidhu, he went into a sulk and eventually resigned from his minor ministerial position. Yet Sidhu remained hopeful as he thought that Captain would stick to the promise of his current stint being his last innings as the CM. Apparently, Sidhu was willing to wait for his turn. However, Captain himself has made condescending nods to the proposal that he be the CM face of Congress once again in the 2022 elections. This has upset Sidhu, and he is giving a difficult time to the CM when all hands should be on deck in the fight against Covid-19.
I have listed the acts of ignominy, and I now will talk about the scandal perpetrated in Punjab’s great state. Even as the Congress party led by its unelected leader, Rahul Gandhi, raises unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations against the Union Government of mishandling the vaccination drive, his own government in Punjab indulges in the scandalous act of robbing the poor to pay the rich.
As reported by many leading dailies of Punjab, the Punjab state government bought 42,000 doses from the Union government at Rs 400 per dose and sold it to the private hospitals for Rs 1060 per dose. The media report suggests that private hospitals sold a few of these for Rs 1,560 per dose. Why did the Punjab government try to sell a vaccine that it bought for Rs 400 to its own people for Rs 1,560? This is clearly a scandal, and some may even term it a scam, but I am refraining from calling it that.
The Congress top leadership demands free vaccines for all Indians. Still, ironically its ‘Best’ run state sells the vaccine for a profit to private parties, leaving the people of Punjab to withstand the worst of a scandal.
One must credit the media for reporting the wrongdoing. Even as the Punjab government has embarrassedly decided to halt this dubious transaction, the veil of righteousness and rectitude has fallen off the face of the first family of the Congress party.
‘Woe is me, and there is shame and scandal in the family is not just an old Caribbean calypso. It is an apocalypse moment for the Congress party
(The writer is an author and columnist)