Almost a year since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, it is not an unknown fact anymore that the crisis has hit the national capital Delhi the most. The paucity of the leadership in Delhi and intense politicking of a health crisis by the Delhi government, in addition to the display of petty one-upmanship by Arvind Kejriwal, has been one of the major reasons why Delhi has utterly failed to manage the health crisis.
From creating a migrant crisis in the national capital to lobbying for the untested American vaccines, the Delhi government has been waging a separate war altogether contrary to what the rest of the country is doing to protect the people’s lives amidst the raging pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Delhi government has deliberately taken decisions that are essentially contrary to the general collective decisions taken by the national leadership.
Here is a glimpse of how Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government took wrong turns since the onslaught of Covid-19 pandemic:
Delhi govt creates a migrant crisis:
As the Chinese coronavirus pandemic slowly set its foot in the country last year, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party resorted to playing petty politics, lying and spreading rumours, and risking migrant workers’ lives the time of a crisis as serious as the coronavirus pandemic.
To do away with the migrant workers in the national capital amidst the pandemic after the nationwide lockdown was issued by the central govt, the AAP government spread the rumour that buses have been waiting at the UP borders to take them to their respective households. This impelled the mass exodus of these migrant labourers, who walked along the national highways in an attempt to return to their respective villages.
Several migrants perished during this long-tenuous journey, thanks to the manmade humanitarian crisis started by Kejriwal and his govt.
Delhi govt failed to act against super-spreader Tablighi Jamaat:
Tablighi Jamaat – the first super-spreaders of the coronavirus in the country was due to the mishandling of the crisis by the Delhi government. The role of Tablighi Jamaat in the spreading of the Wuhan Coronavirus across numerous states of India had come to light when several Muslims, who had attended the congregation at Markaz Nizamuddin, were infected with Covid-19.
The event was organised by the Muslim clerics of Tablighi Jamaat in violation of the government’s lockdown orders, providing a conducive environment for the novel coronavirus to proliferate. Rather than taking strict action against violators, the Delhi government remained blind to their actions, thus enabling them to be the super-spreaders of the Covid-19 last year.
As per conservative estimates, the congregation organised by Tablighi Jamaat was attended by more than 2000 people, both from various parts of the country as well as from abroad. These 2,000 people infected the others across the country, setting up the first wave of Covid-19. If the Delhi government had acted in the earliest, without worrying about backlash from Muslim communities, perhaps, India could have been in a better position today.
Mismanagement of Covid-19 by Delhi govt:
Since the start of the pandemic, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has been receiving a lot of criticism over the handling of the coronavirus in Delhi. The Arvind Kejriwal-led government was caught unprepared to handle the pandemic as people in the national capital struggled to avail themselves of better health care facilities as Covid-19 wreaked havoc in the country.
The Delhi government, which bragged about its Mohalla clinics, failed to create any sustainable health care facilities in the national capital. The sham of ‘Mohalla clinics’ got exposed as people in the national capital struggled to get oxygenated beds. However, thanks to the intervention by the centre, a 10,000-bed COVID facility was set up inside the Radha Soami Satsang Beas facility in Delhi.
Even as the Union government stepped in to help the Delhi government in its fight against the pandemic, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government indulged in petty politics by attempting to take credit for the construction of the Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre in Chattarpur, claiming that it was Delhi government which constructed the centre.
In addition to that, at a time when Delhi was facing a shortage of hospital beds as coronavirus hit the city-state, the AAP govt also returned a 50-bed Covid-19 centre provided by BJP MP Gautam Gambhir. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had said that it is returning the 50-bed facility provided to set up an isolation centre without providing any reason.
Arvind Kejriwal made Delhi the corona capital of the country
In fact, the Supreme Court had slammed the Delhi government over its failure in containing the coronavirus spread in the city. The apex court had termed the deadly situation in Delhi as “horrendous, horrific and pathetic”.
Even the Delhi High Court had slammed Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government over the deteriorating coronavirus situation in the national capital.
The Delhi High Court had severely criticised the Kejriwal-led government for the rising number of cases in Delhi and asked why the administration did not take steps when cases were increasing in the city. In a scathing observation, the Delhi HC had stated that the city could soon become the ‘corona capital of the country’.
Outsiders vs Insiders: Delhi govt’s open discrimination
As cases began to increase in Delhi, leading to massive pressure on the health resources in the national capital, the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal took a controversial decision to ban outsiders from getting treatment in Delhi. He announced that Delhi Government hospitals would only treat patients that are residents of Delhi.
In a single stroke, the Delhi government barred private hospitals, except those hospitals where special surgeries are performed that are not available in other parts of the country, from admitting patients from other states. Amidst the unprecedented increase in active cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus in Delhi, the decision of Arvind Kejriwal to ban outsiders from availing treatment in the national capital had raised serious moral questions about the way the Delhi government was handling the crisis.
As nation celebrated doctors, Delhi govt threatened them by filing cases
Not just that, the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had even attempted to bully and threaten the doctors working in Delhi by registering cases against them in the name of violating directives of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
At a time when the rest of the country was celebrating doctors for the services during the pandemic by hailing them as ‘Covid warriors’, the Delhi Government was busy threatening doctors for not following their diktats. The IMA had strongly condemned the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for issuing warnings and threatening doctors and hospitals amid rising coronavirus cases in the national capital.
AAP’s “Herd immunity” bogey
Then came the “herd immunity” bogey. As the Covid-19 pandemic became uncontrollable in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal twisted the narrative to claim that the case surge in Delhi was nothing but reaching “herd immunity”. He had claimed that at least one-third of its population had developed antibodies against the coronavirus.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had said that with people allegedly achieving “herd immunity”, there was no reason to enforce more lockdowns in the national capital. Within three months of Arvind Kejriwal’s claim that Delhi was prepared to fight the pandemic, the second wave hit the national capital badly. The unscientific rationale of “herd immunity”, on which Delhi Chief Minister had banked, failed utterly, causing several deaths in the city.
Delhi govt’s open support to farmers protest, aided second-wave of pandemic
The Delhi government, which struggled to provide basic necessities to its population in Delhi, was, however, quick to support anti-social elements in the country. As the country was just healing from the pandemic, the opposition parties, including AAP, instigated ‘protestors’ from Punjab to illegally squat on the national highway to protest against the three farm laws.
Without any concerns for public health, especially amidst the worst pandemic, the country had faced, Arvind Kejriwal and his government actively supported these protestors by providing facilities to prolong the illegal occupation of public properties and roads. These protestors not only unleashed violence on the streets of Delhi but returned to the protest camps outside the national capital to cause further inconvenience to the public.
While the rest of the public remained hunkered down in their homes due to lockdown in Delhi, the Delhi government announced that it would support the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s call to observe a countrywide protest on May 26 to mark the completion of 6 months of their agitation. It is important to note that the ‘farmers’ protests sparked the second wave of the Covid-19, causing mayhem and destruction across the country.
Delhi govt created Oxygen crisis in national capital:
As the second wave hit the country, the need for Oxygen and oxygenated beds increased across all parts of the country. While other states managed to manage their oxygen demand, the Delhi government indulged in a blame game with the centre. The hospitals facing an Oxygen shortage in Delhi had come hard against the Aam Aadmi Party government, saying the Delhi government has no understanding of the oxygen supply chain.
Nevertheless, the Oxygen crisis brought to fore the criminal incompetence and ineptitude of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government. The pandemic’s devastation is nowhere more pronounced than in the national capital Delhi as it was one of the worst-hit cities by the contagion during the second wave.
The hearings in Delhi High Court had revealed that for weeks, the Delhi govt had not made arrangement to bring oxygen from other states, even after the centre had oxygen to it from oxygen plants in other states. The Arvind Kejriwal govt had assumed that the central govt will serve oxygen at its doorstep, while the other states had arranged oxygen tankers themselves to bring oxygen.
Delhi govt demanded abnormally high quantity of oxygen, demand dropped after SC ordered Oxygen Audit
One of the most shocking aspects was that the Delhi govt was demanding almost three to four times the quantity of oxygen compared to the consumption of states for a similar number of active cases. For example, while Mumbai was using around 250 MT of oxygen for around 90000 cases in the last two weeks of April, Delhi was demanding 700 MT and then 976 MT for a similar number of cases. Even the Supreme Court had observed this unusually high oxygen demand in Delhi. However, despite such facts, due to non-stop SOS sent by Delhi hospitals for oxygen, Delhi High Court had threatened to file contempt of case against central govt if Delhi does not get 700 MT daily.
Following the Delhi HC order, the centre had started to supply 700 MT daily, but at the same time, the Supreme Court had ordered an audit of oxygen supplied to various states and its use. And immediately after that, the oxygen shortage in Delhi had mysteriously disappeared. In fact, just after the SC order, the Delhi govt had requested the centre to give the extra oxygen to other states. It was notable the AAP govt had vehemently opposed oxygen audit during the hearing at the SC.
In the meanwhile, it was also found that while the Arvind Kejriwal govt was claiming oxygen shortage, it was returning oxygen to the suppliers as it had no place to store them, and had asked the suppliers to store the extra oxygen on its behalf.
Delhi govt covers up its failure through PR campaign:
As the Delhi government failed to grasp the Covid-19 situation, it tried to cover up its failures by spending a lot of public money on advertisements. An RTI reply has revealed that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government has spent Rs 150 crores from January 2021 to March 2021 on advertisements and publicity through various mediums.
It is imperative to note that this PR campaign of the Delhi govt came even as they struggled to provide health care facilities to the people of Delhi. Instead of investing in a better health care model, especially after learning hard lesson during the first wave of the pandemic, the Delhi government was spending lavishly on advertisements to make Arvind Kejriwal look good in the public’s eyes.
When hospitals in Delhi-NCR regions were facing a scarcity of medicinal oxygen, Arvind Kejriwal was spending public money on his promotion.
Arvind Kejriwal’s theatrics and leaking of confidential meetings with PM:
One of the most unethical behaviours displayed by Arvind Kejriwal was when he went live to leak a closed-door meeting between Prime Minister Modi and the Chief Ministers of high burden states. The Prime Minister himself was not happy with Kejriwal for breaking protocols and chastised the Delhi CM for it.
A video had emerged where Prime Minister Modi is offering a strong rebuke to Arvind Kejriwal for breaking protocols. He told Kejriwal, “You have broken a very important protocol, such private conversation are never televised. It is not proper, we should always observe decorum”.
Migrant crisis 2.0:
After having had a bitter experience during the first wave of pandemic last year when the Centre announced the nationwide lockdown to curb infection and build up health infrastructure, the migrant workers in Delhi once again decided to return to their hometowns last month.
Due to the policies of the Delhi government, Delhi once again witnessed a massive migrant crisis with the onset of lockdown in the national capital the previous month. Following the announcement of lockdown by Arvind Kejriwal, a huge gathering of migrant workers were spotted at the Anand Vihar Bus Terminal. Such a crisis was witnessed in 2020 as well.
Arvind Kejriwal fear-mongers about ‘Singapore variant’, embarrasses Indian govt
Even as the entire nation is collectively fighting the Chinese menace, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal indulged in fear-mongering by claiming that a new variant of Covid-19 was found in Singapore, which could result in India’s third wave. Resorting to unnecessary fear-mongering, the Delhi Chief Minister put out unverified information to claim that the new variant was extremely dangerous for children.
The Delhi Chief Minister also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to immediately halt air services with Singapore and prioritize vaccination drive for children. The union civil aviation minister had to fact-check him by saying already there were no air services between India and Singapore, except Vande Bharat flights operated to bring back Indians.
Following the callous statements put out by Kejriwal, Singapore’s Health Ministry had reacted strongly and dismissed the fear-mongering of the Delhi Chief Minister. The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs had revealed that the Singapore government had called the High Commission, raising a strong objection to Kejriwal’s statement. The antics of Arvind Kejriwal had caused massive embarrassment to the entire country in international fora. The Singapore govt had also ordered social media companies to label the claims made by Arvind Kejriwal as fake nude its fake news law.
Delhi govt flip-flop on vaccination drive:
On its vaccination policy too, Arvind Kejriwal and his government have remained uncertain and indulged in frequent flip-flops several times. Ever since the launch of the vaccination drive, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has remained non-committal on the issue of providing coronavirus vaccine free for the people of Delhi.
In the last few months, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has taken several u-turns regarding vaccination. From backing the untested foreign vaccines to create vaccine hesitancy, the Delhi Chief Minister has caused confusion in the minds of the public. After mismanaging the vaccination drive in the national capital, Arvind Kejriwal has now demanded the centre to procure more vaccines immediately, without any trials, to inoculate to the rest of the country.
A few days back, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was rooting for procurement for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine despite the vaccine being untested and comes with an exorbitant cost. In addition to the doubts over its efficacy, Pfizer has also demanded the Indian government to grant them significant regulatory relaxations, including indemnification or protection from compensation claims in case of adverse events.
India is probably the only country in the world where state govts vaccinating for free have no vaccine supply, but private hospitals who charge exorbitant rates for vaccination have vaccine doses available!#VaccinationGhotala pic.twitter.com/JACLktxK8g— Atishi (@AtishiAAP) May 29, 2021
Even as the Delhi Chief Minister bats for costly American vaccines, his colleagues in the Delhi government continue to rumour mongers and indulge in conspiracy theories to discredit the vaccination drive. AAP leader Atishi Marlena has been peddling conspiracy theories against paid vaccination drive in the country by inventing a scam, while her leader Arvind Kejriwal is urging the government to procure costly and untested paid vaccines.
It is intriguing to know what exactly the Delhi government is trying to achieve by politicising every aspect of governance. With a third wave of the pandemic lurking around, the citizens of Delhi are already worried about the devastating impact that would bring on to the national capital. One can only hope that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government stops its antics and focus on the real issue, i.e., the effective management of the Covid-19 crisis in Delhi.