Modi and Amit Shah Draw Flak for Holding Election Rallies amid Worsening Covid Situation

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Amit Shah’s election rally in West Bengal amid pandemic

‘Insensitive Prime Minister’, ‘Sick Man’, ‘Nero’ are some of the expressions people are using on social media

Zafar Aafaq l Clarion India 

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have come under severe criticism for organising election rallies and praising the large crowds that their rallies draw as the country is reeling under the mammoth and more brutal second wave of coronavirus.

“The first time I came to ask for your votes for myself. But the crowd was only a quarter of this size. But today, I see huge crowds of people in all directions… Today, you have shown your power and I can see a wave of people everywhere I see,” the PM said, praising the crowd while addressing a poll rally in Asansol district of West Bengal on Saturday on a day when India reported more than 2 lakh cases and more than 1,300 fatalities.

People and opposition slammed the PM for conducting rallies and boasting about crowds amidst a health emergency and called him Nero.

“PM Modi is happy with huge gatherings where Covid norms are gone for a toss… If this is not a disaster then what else can be?’ asked Anis Ahmad, General Secretary of Popular Front of India.

Journalist Meghnand called the PM a “sick man”.

Filmmaker Vinod Kapri while reacting to the PM praising the crowd shared visuals showing Lucknow lit up due to flames from cremations of corpses of the dead due to coronavirus. He wrote, “HAVE NEVER SEEN LUCKNOW LIKE THIS AND SUCH AN INSENSITIVE PRIME MINISTER.”

Taking a dig at Modi and politicians busy with rallies, Rahul Gandhi wrote a tweet in Hindi which roughly translates as, “This is also the first time when such huge crowds of sick people and a record number of deaths have been seen.”

Before his tweet, Congress Party posted a 2-minute and 38-second video from its official account criticising Modi for going on campaign trail amidst crisis. “The fact is, to Star Campaigner Narendra Modi, Indians are nothing more than the votes they can give him.” The voice over of the video tweet said, “Modiji is prioritising his campaigning during pandemic is like Nero fiddling while Rome burned. India is literally burning, bodies are piling up in crematoriums, doctors, vaccines, oxygen, ICU beds, medicines are running out.”

On Sunday, Rahul Gandhi announced that he is suspending all his rallies in view of the aggravating situation due to Covid-19. In contrast, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a road-show in West Bengal’s Nadia district on Sunday.

The uninterrupted public rallies by top BJP leaders has sparked outrage among people accusing the PM and home minister of not caring for the lives of people.

James Wilson, an engineer who is very active on social media, said the home minister who is in charge of disaster management is spearheading super spread events of Covid by holding such rallies.

Reacting to the photos of Shah’s road-show, Amitabh Dubey said, “he is not flattening the (coronavirus) curve, he is flattening the country”.

The Election Commision of India has issued Covid-19 protocol for election rallies and warned that the campaigning may be suspended if sops, which include compulsory masking, distancing, thermal scanning of attendees and limiting crowds, are not adhered to.

When Shah was asked by Indian Express during an interview why are rallies being organised while Covid numbers are surging, he justified saying that the states where elections are underway are seeing way less cases than others. “Is there an election in Maharashtra? It has 60,000 cases, while here (in Bengal) it is 4,000. I care for Maharashtra and I care for Bengal. But linking (the COVID-19 surge) with the election is not right.”

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