I write this piece not as the national spokesperson of the Opposition, the Congress party. I write this piece not as a political activist. I write this piece as an Indian, on behalf of those who died hoping to live and those who are barely living, hoping to die.
They are the ‘victims’ of someone who has renamed himself as the ‘system’. And victims under this system either get demonised, ridiculed or out-shouted by those who think they rule India.
We are being advised by State and non-State actors not to ask questions, not to show mass funerals, nor the corpses of countless fellow Indians who died gasping for breath, — because showing funerals, we are told, ‘violates’ the sacred journey of the soul.
We are not supposed to question the prime minister on his pre-mature self-congratulatory claims at the World Economic Forum in January this year, half-mocking his political rivals and those who were constantly fore-warning him of the upcoming second tsunami of the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, questioning him amounts to ‘weakening his fight against the pandemic’.
‘Shush! Don't Question the Government’
Why were eight months wasted by the Central Medical Services Society, a body under the Union Ministry of Health in floating the tender for 162 on-site oxygen plants to be built in district hospitals in 14 states?
We cannot question the Central and state governments that allowed super-spreader events like the Kumbh Mela, because these are rants of pseudo-secularists trying to undermine tradition.
Twitter is ‘pressurised’ by the government to take down tweets questioning the double-standards reflected in the collective silence over the Kumbh Mela, as compared to the collective outrage over the Tablighi event of 2020.
Why was the prime minister unable to prevail upon the state governments to cancel the Kumbh Mela in view of COVID-19?
We are not allowed to ask the logic behind deliberately dragging the West Bengal election to eight phases to enable the ‘star campaigner’ posing as prime minister to whet his appetite for large, gushing crowds singing his praise, because we are informed with a straight face that the Election Commission takes its own decisions.
When all other parties approached the Election Commission with the request, why was the BJP the only party that opposed the merger of the remaining four phases of the West Bengal elections?
We are not supposed to question the decision to allow the export of Remdesivir or the decisions to export oxygen or the vaccine, because by questioning these decisions we are coming in the way of ‘sahib’s’ ‘diplomatic master-strokes’ that have made it possible for the country to now import oxygen, Remdesivir and vaccines.
‘Crimes Against Humanity’
The RSS (which is currently busy photoshopping the Qatar stadium or claiming the Radha Soami Satsang hospital at Indore as hospitals, which it wants people to believe it created) is advising us to be wary of those ‘anti-Bharat forces who may create an atmosphere of negativity and distrust’.
We cannot question the vaccine policy or the vaccine diplomacy or the price differential issue either — because we are told that the country should be ‘proud’ of breaking several world records, including the one in which the server has sent the highest number of SMSes to those who got themselves registered for the vaccine.
We cannot question them on why the ones who got registered are not able to get a slot or where the vaccines are exactly, or how the 55 percent population without internet access will get itself registered?
We cannot question the centralisation of decision-making, but decentralisation of blame.
From Denial to Intimidation
We cannot ask why the prime minister was keen on foreign aid to be routed through his office, and why Canada and New Zealand chose to bypass the advice and route their contributions through the International Red Cross. We definitely cannot question the PM on the PM-CARES fund.
We have a state whose CM threatens those who question the government on oxygen shortage, with confiscation of property. Doctors are being intimidated. Patients are being hounded.
The dead are not even treated as numbers, because the dead can neither applaud you at rallies, nor give you their vote. The dead cannot question, and the living will not get an answer.
(The writer is former political secretary to Sheila Dikshit, and is currently National Spokesperson, Congress party. He tweets @Pawankhera .This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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