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Why will anybody travel to Delhi for Coronavirus treatment? Here is how AAP is bluffing to cover failures

As citizens, we have to call the AAP government’s bluff on the matter. We can’t waste time discussing the issue of whether or not outsiders should be allowed in Delhi hospitals. That’s what AAP wants us to do, instead of asking them real questions on real problems.

Do you have an opinion on whether the government of Delhi should reserve its Coronavirus wards only for those who are residents of Delhi? Perhaps you agree with them, or you disagree with them. It does not matter. As long as you have an opinion, you have already walked into the trap laid by AAP. You already lost. Congratulations.

Why? Because the specter of “outsiders” coming to Delhi in substantial numbers to get treated for Coronavirus is a non-problem.

Think about it. People travel long distances when they are in need of advanced medical care. For specialized tests, involving sophisticated medical equipment. Or very delicate surgeries.

Coronavirus patients need none of that. Would anyone get into a train and go all the way to Delhi for an oxygen cylinder?

Sadly, there is no cure nor treatment for Coronavirus. No sophisticated medical test, surgery or equipment is involved. Patients are isolated, administered basic medicines to treat fever and congestion. If things don’t improve, they are given oxygen. In worst cases, they are put on ventilator.

Why would anyone travel to Delhi for that? Would anyone with serious symptoms even be physically capable of making the trip to Delhi? Coronavirus is not cancer. It acts too quickly.

Oh and most trains aren’t even running right now. In other words, AAP has created a fake debate around a non-issue. Their real objective is to steer the conversation away from their failures in Delhi.

Here is how much energy the AAP government has invested into the issue.

(1) On Jun 1, Arvind Kejriwal addressed the people of Delhi asking whether outsiders should be treated in Delhi govt hospitals.

(2) About a week later, on Jun 7, Kejriwal announced that he had made up his mind. Predictably, he declared that Delhi govt hospitals (and private hospitals) in Delhi would be reserved only for residents.

(3) Fortunately, Delhi is not a full fledged state. We have a Lt. Governor, who can provide adult supervision to the petulant Delhi CM. Accordingly, the office of LG Anil Baijal moved immediately to overrule the order. In this case however, this is exactly what Kejriwal would have hoped for. So Deputy CM Manish Sisodia is talking to media again about the importance of reserving beds for residents of Delhi.

The AAP just wants to create a scene and get everyone to talk about it. Here is what they don’t want to talk about.

(1) Why is it so hard to get a test in Delhi for those who are showing symptoms? Social media is awash with horror stories of people running from pillar to post trying to get tested.

(2) Why is Delhi govt app failing to give accurate information on availability of beds in city hospitals? Again, social media abounds with horror stories, many from well connected and powerful people. Imagine what the common citizen is going through.

(3) Why has Delhi done such a poor job of contact tracing? According to ICMR, Delhi has traced just 2.1 contacts per confirmed case, which is among the worst in the country. For comparison, Karnataka has traced 47.4 contacts per case. Neighboring Uttar Pradesh has traced 9.8. Why is Delhi lagging behind so badly?

Instead of answering real questions, the AAP government wants to troll people with the imaginary threat of people from all over India pouring into Delhi for oxygen cylinders.

As citizens, we have to call the AAP government’s bluff on the matter. We can’t waste time discussing the issue of whether or not outsiders should be allowed in Delhi hospitals. That’s what AAP wants us to do, instead of asking them real questions on real problems.

And while we are it, we might as well ask two related questions to the liberal ecosystem.

(1) A few months ago, Indian liberals were swept up in the revolutionary spirit of Kaagaz Nahin Dikhayenge. Right now, Delhi government wants to check papers before giving emergency medical treatment. Not citizenship papers, mind you. Mere residency papers. Three months ago, we heard that it is too much hardship if people are given several months to find papers. Now we hear that anyone who is short of breath in Delhi should bring their papers with them while going to hospital.

(2) Have you considered who is most impacted by Delhi govt’s apparent intent to check residency papers? The people most likely to be impacted would be migrants, the poorest and the most marginalized. They are most likely to still have addresses from their “home” states on their papers. Only last week, Indian liberals were crying buckets about the hardships faced by migrant workers.

What now? What was the principle? Did they really have an objection to checking papers? Did they care about migrant workers at all? Or was it just about opposing Modi?

We know the answer already. But it would be helpful if liberals could say it out aloud.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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