Modi’s victory vs Rahul’s caution: How two leaders fared in India’s Covid-19 crisis?

While the BJP and PM Modi declared early victory against Covid-19, Rahul Gandhi continuously warned against the health emergency and pressed the Centre to control the devastating effects of the deadly virus.

Hyderabad: In January this year, addressing the prestigious World Economic Forum held at Davos, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared and celebrated the victory against the COVID-19 pandemic. He not only dismissed everyone’s inhibitions about India’s response to the ‘tsunami of injections’, but also proudly claimed: “India saved humanity from a big disaster.”

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Not just that, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in February passed a resolution declaring victory against the virus. “It can be said with pride,” the resolution read, that “India not only defeated COVID-19 under the able, sensible, committed and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Modi, but also infused in all its citizens the confidence to build an Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.

Election rallies in ‘huge numbers’ continued. Kumbh Mela was organized on a pompous scale. Public callousness increased. All this while the second wave of COVID-19 infections trampled the country, which eventually turned out to be a monstrous one crumbling our existing health infrastructure. Shortage of oxygen, burden on crematoriums and constant warnings of doctors began to make headlines.

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On Sunday, in his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address (which garnered more dislikes than likes on his YouTube channel), Modi seemed to have come back to square one again. He said that “the entire conversation is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, because, today, our biggest priority is to defeat this disease”.

All that earlier boasting, for nothing then! Here’s what all the BJP top leadership told when the country witnessed a stride towards a COVID-19 peak in the country.

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On the other hand, the “incompetent” and the “Pappu” of Indian politics, Congress party former president Rahul Gandhi provided some constructive comments all through this year’s period. “Gandhi is struggling to present himself as the real alternative to a divisive and toxic administration,” journalist Rana Ayyub wrote in a Washington Post article.

From day 1, he had pressed the Centre to control the devastating effects of health emergency–on migrants, on the economy and countrymen. Recently, he even demanded free vaccination for all. All his tweets during this time have only been constructive.

Not only did Rahul Gandhi criticize the Modi government’s dismal mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, but he also made a responsible choice of canceling the election rallies in poll-bound West Bengal amid rising infections. All his COVID-related forewarnings have been met with typically dismissive reactions.

Senior journalist Shivam Vij puts it aptly. “If we have to be honest, it is no longer possible to say “At least Modi is better than Rahul”. No one can deny he’s said the right things at the right time on Covid,” the journalist wrote in a tweet.

Shivam Vij, a known critique of the Gandhi family, further goes on to argue that if Rahul Gandhi was the PM, India would be doing better on COVID-19. “Given this evidence, one could say if he was PM we wouldn’t be doing this badly on Covid,” he wrote.

While there is some truth to the criticism against him, Rahul Gandhi proved that he can be turned into that opposition who could take on the Prime Minister head on every single day and demand accountability for leading the country into an abyss.

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Sruthi Vibhavari

Sruthi Vibhavari is a budding journalist from Hyderabad. A graduate in Economics and Political Science, she is a keen follower of contemporary socio-political and economic developments in the country and also the world. While she occasionally writes poems in English, she is also an Urdu literature enthusiast – right from Mirza Ghalib to Gulzar.
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