Propagandist-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai created quite a stir on social media today after claiming that Rahul Gandhi was ‘probably’ the first national politician to warn about the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic and implied that India would have been better off if the former Congress president was taken seriously instead of being mocked at.
As it turns out, the government had begun taking the Wuhan Coronavirus seriously long before Rahul Gandhi spoke out on the matter. In fact, India Today, where Rajdeep Sardesai is the consulting-editor and anchors a show on, had reproduced a report on the government’s actions to combat the virus by PTI on the 21st of January, twenty-three days before Rahul Gandhi spoke of it.
The report said, “The Civil Aviation Ministry has directed seven airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata to make arrangements for screening of passengers arriving from China in the wake of outbreak of an infection caused by a new strain of virus there.” “The MoCA has directed for all logistics support and arrangements to be made immediately with regard to screening of passengers arriving in India from China including Hong Kong at the identified airports — Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin apart from three airports at Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata identified earlier,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) was quoted as saying.
The action plan in January included thermal screening of passengers along with the setting up of thermal cameras at specified airports. The MoCa had called for the immediate implementation of the action plan in January and strict adherence to it by all authorities involved. The report from January also mentioned that the Union Health Secretary had written to states and Union Territories in order to review their preparedness and strengthen their core capacities in terms of necessary medical requirements.
Thus, quite clearly, the Government of India had begun making adequate preparation and implementing adequate measures in order to combat the crisis. Rajdeep Sardesai’s primary objective in the tweet appears to have been gaining political mileage from a tragedy. Even in the wake of a great crisis, journalists have regularly demonstrated that they are more concerned with taking potshots at the ruling dispensation at the center instead of reporting objectively on facts. Rajdeep Sardesai appears to be no different.
In the aftermath of the Delhi Riots, Rajdeep Sardesai had tried to blame Kapil Mishra for the communal violence that broke out in the national capital. The locals whom Rajdeep Sardesai was interviewing, however, told him that Kapil Mishra said nothing wrong. In January, Rajdeep Sardesai claimed after one of Amit Shah’s rally ahead of the Delhi elections that the Home Minister had only spoken of issues such as Article 370, CAA, Pakistan, Ram Mandir and not on matters such as electricity, schools or hospitals. He quietly deleted his tweet after netizens pointed out that Amit Shah had indeed spoken at great length on these matters.
It remains to be seen whether Rajdeep Sardesai will delete the tweet where he claimed that Rahul Gandhi was ‘probably’ the first politician who raised the alarm on the Wuhan Coronavirus. Meanwhile, his reputation is such that even Ravish Kumar calls him a ‘shopkeeper’.