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Rahul Gandhi goes from ‘lockdown won’t work’ to ‘lockdown only solution’ for the raging coronavirus outbreak

Last year, when the Indian government imposed a strict lockdown, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi vigorously opposed it. This year, when the central government has left it on the local governments to decide if they want to impose lockdowns in their states, Rahul Gandhi wants the centre to impose a full lockdown.

As India grapples with the ferocious second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, senior Congress leader and former party president Rahul Gandhi has pompously suggested what he has long been protesting against. After opposing the complete lockdown for a long time, Rahul Gandhi today took to Twitter to assert that the only way to stop the coronavirus now is to have a complete lockdown.

“GOI doesn’t get it. The only way to stop the spread of Corona now is a full lockdown- with the protection of NYAY for the vulnerable sections. GOI’s inaction is killing many innocent people,” Gandhi tweeted earlier this morning.

Gandhi’s suggestion to institute a rigorous lockdown is in stark contrast to his previously held stance. For a long time now, Gandhi has been railing against the imposition of lockdown, arguing that its enforcement doesn’t yield the intended result. However, much like his about-faces on several issues, Rahul Gandhi has now made another staggering u-turn. This time on whether to impose or not a complete lockdown.

Rahul Gandhi has persistently opposed the imposition of lockdown in the fight against the pandemic

On 29 March 2020, almost a week after PM Modi announced a nationwide lockdown, Rahul Gandhi wrote a letter to PM Modi on the coronavirus crisis. In that letter, Rahul Gandhi expressed his disapproval for the lockdown and expressed his concerns about the same.

In April 2020, within a month after PM Modi announced a strict lockdown in the last week of March, Rahul Gandhi raised questions on the efficacy of lockdowns in battling the coronavirus pandemic. When several advanced countries and developed economies were imposing lockdowns to fight the novel contagion, Mr Gandhi was sowing doubts about the strategy of defeating the virus with a lockdown. He passionately argued that lockdown is not a solution to the coronavirus as it could only “pause” the situation.

Then in May 2020, days after Rahul Gandhi criticised the government for enforcing complete lockdown, the Gandhi scion once again lambasted the Centre for imposing countrywide lockdown to combat the coronavirus. At a time when several European nations were witnessing an alarming spread of the virus, India was largely unscathed by the ravages of the rampaging pandemic. However, Mr Gandhi continued to protest against it, claiming that the purpose of the lockdown had failed even though India was then amongst the nations with the lowest infections compared to its geographical expanse and population size.

Nevertheless, as has been the case with the Wayanad MP, he gets smitten to an idea that he thinks would help him in rallying support for himself and then goes trotting out the same thing again and again, without heeding to the feedback as to whether it is proving to be helpful or not. After Demonetisation in 2016, for months on end, Mr Gandhi kept harping about its consequences, but his rants did not help him in stopping his political decline. He kept losing elections after elections in various states across the country and then the General elections in 2019.

In September 2020, Rahul Gandhi once again denounced the imposition of lockdown, perhaps in a bid to revive his political fortunes. Gandhi had then said that the lockdown is not an attack on the coronavirus but the poor and proved to be a “death sentence” for the unorganised sector. In an attempt to seek the support of the poor, Gandhi exaggerated and sensationalised the ill effects of lockdown while brushing under the carpet that it has significantly helped India in staving off the initial bout of the coronavirus outbreak.

Months later, Gandhi has vacillated from protesting the lockdown to supporting and endorsing it. He now wants the government to impose a complete lockdown to defeat the coronavirus. In this regard, Gandhi issued an additional tweet, elaborating on why he wants the government to impose a lockdown now.

“I just want to make it clear that a lockdown is now the only option because of a complete lack of strategy by GOI. They allowed, rather, they actively helped the virus reach this stage where there’s no other way to stop it. A crime has been committed against India,” Gandhi said.

Congress and Rahul Gandhi’s role in the spread of the coronavirus outbreak

While Gandhi blames the government of India for “actively helping” the virus in this state, it pertinent to note that he himself and the Congress party played a pivotal role in the resurgent coronavirus outbreak in the country. When the lockdown restrictions were imposed in the country, Rahul Gandhi and others fiercely questioned the efficacy of the lockdown and continuously urged the government to open up the country. Rahul Gandhi also attended rallies in states where elections were to be held. Congress leaders in Punjab actively exhorted the ‘farmers’ and other protesters to march towards Delhi and launch demonstrations against the newly introduced farm laws in Punjab and along the Delhi border.

The Congress party, too, supported these demonstrations where social distancing norms were rarely followed, and people went around without masks. It is alleged that the mass gatherings may have played a significant role in the spread of the UK variant of the virus in Delhi and its surrounding regions. Analysts attribute this dangerous surge of infections in the national capital to the ‘farmers’ protests besides other causes.

Last year, when the Indian government imposed a strict lockdown, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi vigorously opposed it. This year, when the central government has left it on the local governments to decide if they want to impose lockdowns in their states, Rahul Gandhi wants the centre to impose a full lockdown. No matter what, opposing the Centre seems to be the policy adopted by the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi. Opposing the Centre is the only coherent policy that Congress and Rahul Gandhi are consistent with. In essence, this compulsive contrarian attitude of Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party reflects that they don’t have any actionable plan on fighting the dangerous pandemic, and all they are leaning on is mindlessly opposing the central government.

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Jinit Jain
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