Here is a fact that was never widely reported. Towards the end of March this year, just as Coronavirus was making its way across India, the AAP government quietly signed up Delhi for the Center’s Ayushman Bharat program.
Until then, Kejriwal had maintained that Delhi did not need to join Ayushman Bharat because Delhi’s own system was much better.
How much better? Believe it or not, Kejriwal provided an exact figure. In a two page letter (written in Hindi) to Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan in June 2019, Kejriwal had stated that
“Delhi government’s health scheme is 10 times bigger and comprehensive than Ayushman Bharat“
And yet, just as India found itself entering the jaws of a pandemic, Kejriwal abandoned his own health scheme to pick up a product that in his own words was 10 times worse.
And thus begins a tragicomic tale of a Chief Minister who loves bombast but seems bored by the actual task of governing. Which is why he is forever looking for others to pick up the slack.
But the virus is not forgiving. And in a big metropolis such as Delhi, there was no stopping it. The AAP tried all the obvious tricks. Testing too little. Hiding data on death toll. An app that gave fake info on availability of hospital beds. Blaming “outsiders” for taking up space in Delhi hospitals and trying to kick off a big public “debate” over this non-issue. This is “latkaana, atkaana, bhatkanaa” on a scale that would put even Congress to shame.
At the very least, the Chief Minister’s IIT education should have taught him that you cannot hide from an exponential curve. By mid-June, data compiled from Delhi’s municipal corporations showed that the Coronavirus death toll was at least twice the official figure from the state government.
As Delhi clamped down on testing, the test positivity rate soared to a frightening 37% on June 13. The capital was now officially spinning out of control.
Not only was Delhi testing too little, there was a story in who it was testing. A story of class privilege and elitism. A story that is particularly cruel to the supposed “aam aadmi” votebase of the AAP.
Here is the number of tests that Delhi government had conducted by June 14, broken down by region, as compiled by The Print.
Right away, you can see that the number of tests in posh South Delhi and New Delhi area towering over places like Shahadara, where the poor of the city live.
The test positivity rate tells a similar story of AAP’s cruelty to Delhi’s poor.
The rate of positives in New Delhi is 22%. In South Delhi, it is 28%. Scary indeed, but surely better off than the astonishing 75% in Shahadara. In other words, the poorest parts of the city were suffering the most and getting the least number of tests.
The data leaves absolutely no room for doubt: the government of “aam aadmi” was working only for the elite.
But virus doesn’t see rich or poor. By mid-June, AAP knew it was all over. That’s when Deputy CM Manish Sisodia went public, sort of promising Delhi 5.5 lakh cases by July 31.
Unbelievably, Sisodia was still playing games at this time over the non-issue of reserving hospital beds for locals.
Delhi desperately needed adult supervision of its elected government. And they got it. The Prime Minister put together a team to “help” Delhi and Amit Shah stepped in.
Notice that date: June 14, 2020. And now see the magic. Here is the data compiled by India Today’s Data Intelligence Unit.
See how the number of tests in Delhi climbs rapidly as the Center steps in?
See how test positivity rate was soaring until Amit Shah stepped in? And how it began to fall immediately after?
The pattern is unmissable. Things turned around for Delhi with the Center coming in.
It is difficult to imagine how bad things could have gotten in Delhi had there not been the Center to babysit its supposedly grown Chief Minister.
But then, maybe that was Kejriwal’s master plan all along. If he makes a mess of Delhi badly enough, he knows he has Amit Shah to come in and pick up the pieces. Then, Kejriwal can do what he does best: chill out.
What an idea, Sir ji!