India has survived because of the infrastructure built in the past 70 years: Shiv Sena
For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the unkindest cut may have come not from the international media but from his former ally Shiv Sena.
The Sena has said India has survived because of the infrastructure built in the past 70 years by previous Prime Ministers, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
“Small countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal are helping India today because the ferociously rising Covid-19 cases here is becoming a threat to the entire world. To put it bluntly, India has survived because of the system built by Nehru-Gandhi (regimes). Otherwise, this corona(virus) wave would have destroyed the lives of 125 crore people,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamna said on Saturday.
Highlighting that thousands were dying, the editorial said: “The world is now scared of what is happening in India. Most countries have banned travel and business engagements with India. This is hurting India financially. Still India is thriving because of projects undertaken by Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. This is a blessing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to work hard and shed political nationalism to sustain the country. It is not good for India to become a global concern.”
The argument of the Sena, now a Congress ally, punctures Modi’s pet theme that nothing was achieved in the past seven decades and that India woke up only after his ascent to power. The coronavirus has undermined his boast of development and many observers have insisted that whatever India has in the shape of health infrastructure, scientific institutions and pharmaceutical companies was created by previous governments.
While great institutions were envisaged and built by Nehru and Indira, India became the pharmaceutical and vaccine centre of the world during Rajiv’s rule.
India was economically much stronger during Singh’s tenure, refusing international aid in times of calamities. But this government has accepted help from over 40 countries barely weeks after Prime Minister Modi boasted about having defeated the epidemic and helped other countries.
The editorial said: “Now Unicef has expressed concern that India is becoming a global threat and asked (other) countries to help. Bangladesh has sent remdesivir, Bhutan has given us oxygen. Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are extending a helping hand.”
It continued: “The pyres burning in India are choking the neighbouring countries. Those countries are helping us to save themselves. We have seen countries like Pakistan, Rwanda and Congo in such a situation in the past. But India, which was supposed to be atmanirbhar (self-reliant), is in this situation today because of the wrong policies of the leaders.
“But our Prime Minister is not ready to stop the Rs 20,000-crore Central Vista project even as poor countries are offering small assistance to us. It is surprising that spending thousands of crores on a non-essential project and accepting aid from countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka doesn’t pain us.”
Regretting that India had suffered grievous injuries because of the uncontrolled epidemic, the editorial said: “The Supreme Court is lashing out at the central government daily. Had there been a sensitive or patriotic government at the Centre, they would have constituted a national team with leaders from all parties without thinking of political gains or losses and worked collectively to fight the crisis.”
The biting critique came on a day Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray wrote to Modi seeking permission to set up a separate app on the lines of CoWin for the age group of 18 to 45.
“CoWin app seeing the sudden surge of the number of citizens wanting to register nationally, there is a fear about the app malfunctioning or crashing, as it did on the first day of registrations for the said age group,” Uddhav said.
The letter betrayed a lack of satisfaction with the central system, with the chief minister also asking the Prime Minister to allow the states to procure vaccines from other manufacturers to overcome the shortages.
“The state of Maharashtra is willing to procure the requisite stock of vaccines in a single procurement, if possible, so as to safeguard our citizens and to give a boost to India’s vaccination programme. However, the producers do not have enough stocks,” the letter said.
“If the states are allowed to procure from other manufacturers as well, we would be able to cover a larger population in a shorter time and held reduce the impact of the possible third wave of Covid.”