Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi held a press conference on Friday where he addressed the Coronavirus crisis in the country. During the press conference, he used various half truths and exaggerated lies to attack the government over the matter.
During the press conference, Rahul Gandhi made a bizarre argument about the death count in the country. He said that he can “guarantee” that the death statistics are wrong. But he also said that he has told Congress governments not to lie, essentially saying that only BJP Governments are lying.
Spoke to CMs of Congress-ruled States, told them that lying will only harm them, reality needs to be accepted. Actual death numbers might be disturbing but we must stick to telling truth: Rahul Gandhi on whether deaths in Congress-ruled states also wrongly reported pic.twitter.com/eitL4lOPih— ANI (@ANI) May 28, 2021
There are multiple reasons why the line of reasoning he has peddled is completely wrong.
Rahul Gandhi’s version of death stats
Rahul Gandhi recently shared a New York Times estimate of deaths on his Twitter account that presents an extremely exaggerated figure without any basis. The NYT estimated 1.6 million deaths by the 24th of May without any proper reasoning.
They presented a worse scenario of 4.2 million deaths due to the Coronavirus. According to official statistics, we know that in 2020, the death rate was significantly lower than the year before, by as much as 10%.
Numbers don’t lie… GOI does. pic.twitter.com/5YLSnaeKzK— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 26, 2021
Therefore, an overwhelming majority of the 1.6 million deaths or the 4.2 million figure has to come in 2021 for the estimate to be accurate. Assuming that 27,000 people die on an average in India everyday under normal circumstances from all causes, which is the most credible estimate, then, 3,888,000 people are estimated to have died this year due to all causes until the 24th of May, barring Covid-19.
Thus, since according to the NYT death figures, at least 1.6 million people are expected to have died from Covid-19 in India since the beginning of the pandemic, and taking into consideration that the death rate was less in 2020 than 2019, then Covid related deaths in India by between the 1st of January and 24th of May this year is at least 35% of the estimated all cause deaths.
Furthermore, if the 4.2 million deaths is to be taken as true, then it means that at least as many people died from Covid-19 this year as deaths due to all other cases combined. This is an utterly bizarre estimation which would be completely at odds with data from other parts of the world.
Also, if these numbers were true, then we would have been looking at a societal collapse, not just a collapse of the health system. Furthermore, the health system was strained for only a couple of weeks or so. Until then and since then, a shortage of resources in hospitals has not been reported from most states of the country.
Thus, Rahul Gandhi’s claims of “exponentially” higher deaths fall flat.
Only non-Congress states lying?
The second part of the argument by Rahul Gandhi is even more bizarre as he places the blame for uncounted deaths solely at the feet of non-Congress governments. It is to be noted here that the central government does not provide the death statistics on their own.
It is the state governments which send their respective numbers to the Central Government, which the Ministry of Health uploads on its website. Thus, to blame the Central Government for the official death figure is incomprehensible in itself.
Even so, let us look at the case fatality rates and the cases per million figure from some of the state. We took 8 states, 3 ruled by the Congress party, 3 by the BJP, one by a non-Congress, non-BJP party and another where the Congress party is in an alliance with the Shiv Sena and the NCP.
From the table, it can be seen that there is no “exponential” difference between the death rates of the states regardless of which party is in power. Delhi has the highest rate of confirmed cases and along expected lines, its death rate is also one of the highest.
Punjab, the heart of the ‘farmer protests’, has not been conducting enough tests it appears and as a consequence, its death rate is vastly higher than the rest. Therefore, for Rahul Gandhi to claim that Congress ruled states are reporting accurate data is quite farcical.
The death rate for India as a whole is 1.16%. Barring Punjab which is way off the charts, all the other states here are not too far from the average. Therefore, the suggestion that India is vastly undercounting Coronavirus deaths and only BJP ruled states are responsible for it is shameless politicking that has no basis in statistics.
Rajasthan has a significantly lower CFR than Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. If Rahul Gandhi indeed believes that the deaths in India are exponentially higher than the official figures, then how can he claim that the BJP ruled states are underreporting deaths but Rajasthan isn’t?
The NYT numbers, which Rahul Gandhi appears to believe, would require all states to majorly underreport deaths. It clearly cannot be argued that Congress party has its hands clean while blaming others for it.