COVID writing on the wall ahead of UP polls -Biswajeet Banerjee

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published Published on May 20, 2021   modified Modified on May 20, 2021

-The Pioneer

The severe wave of the killer pandemic has virtually nullified all the good work undertaken by the Yogi Adityanath Government

After a month of devastation Covid-19 has caused in Uttar Pradesh leaving behind a trail of deaths and stories of agony emanating from almost each mohulla across the State, the insiders in the BJP and in the RSS realise that whatever be their achievements like providing houses to poor or free electricity, Ram Mandir and scrapping of Article 370 — everything has been washed away. “We have to start from scratch. This year’s corona pandemic has washed away the good work being done by the BJP Government,” a senior BJP leader told this reporter recently.

The statement coming from a senior BJP leader speaks volumes about the confidence of the party before the assembly election slated for early next year.  From early this year the party had started a campaign with Ram Mandir being the fulcrum of the strategy. The elected representatives from Lok Sabha to ward levels were asked to galvanise party workers. The focus was booth management. Meetings - both physical and virtual - were going on across the State. There was a euphoria in the party cadre that Yogi Adityanath will return as Chief Minister. The main opposition Samajwadi Party too looked a bit reticent as its national president Akhilesh Yadav seemed to be at a sea about the party’s political strategy.

The pandemic seems to have turned the BJP’s applecart over.  The desperate cries of help, for hospital beds and oxygen coming from cities and recovery of bloated and highly decomposed bodies from rivers across the state shows the catastrophe this pandemic has created.

An RSS pracharak says no one is now talking about Ram Temple.  “This was to be our crowning glory event and we were set to use this (Ram Temple) in the next assembly election campaign. That has finished now. The slate is clean. We do not know where to start.” The party believed that the victory on the Ram Mandir issue was the cornerstone of its campaign.  Scrapping of article 370 added to the sheen of their campaign. Now, they seem to stand nowhere.

A ruling party corporator recounts how he had failed to help people of his ward when they were in dire need of beds in hospitals or were running around for a cylinder of oxygen. He called officers over a hundred times but they did not pick up his calls. Even senior party leaders showed their helplessness. Now, the corporator questions how he can expect support from these people because he has failed them when they needed his support the most. Families who lost people to Covid are also losing faith in the party, government and the system.

Union Minister Santosh Gangwar himself wrote a letter to Chief Minister Adityanath saying officials are not attending calls of people. When ruling party MLA from Nawabganj Kesar Singh died of corona his son tweeted saying if this government cannot save its MLA, what to talk about others. Party MP from Meerut Rajendra Agarwal wrote a letter to Adityanath to increase the number of beds in hospitals after reports that gangs of touts were allocating beds to patients in Covid hospitals.

What has added to BJP and Yogi Government’s agony is the Panchayat elections. It is now no secret that Covid infection reached villages also because of them. In the Covid 1.0 the villages remained untouched because the outsiders were not allowed entry unless they completed mandatory 14-day quarantine in schools outside villages. This time the situation was different. During the election campaign villagers enjoyed parties, thrown by candidates, as is the norm in Panchayat elections, sacrificing their personal safety. Once the pandemic reached villages it took a calamitous shape.

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The Pioneer, 20 May, 2021,

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