Double standards

Saturday, 01 May 2021 | Pioneer

What’s the logic for allowing the Kumbh Mela last month but suspending the Char Dham Yatra now?

As the Centre and States come in for stringent criticism for being caught napping when the pandemic’s second wave hit the country and the subsequent mismanagement of the situation, the Uttarakhand Government has announced the suspension of the Char Dham Yatra. Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat said the gates of the four Himalayan temples — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri — would open on May 14 as scheduled, but only for the priests. Though it is heartening that yet another super-spreader event has been averted, what is saddening is that the Government didn’t do this on its own accord. The decision came a day after the Rawat Government was castigated by the Uttarakhand High Court (HC) for mishandling the outbreak. The court said, and rightly so, that the State had become a “laughing stock” by allowing the Kumbh Mela to take place in the midst of a raging pandemic. To its credit, the HC has been trying to make the Government see sense and repeatedly taking it to task over its irresponsible decision to continue with the yatra in the midst of a highly contagious outbreak, calling it “frightening”.

One only wishes that had such better sense prevailed on the Government earlier, it would have stopped the Kumbh Mela even before it began. Because, make no mistake, the Kumbh was as much a super-spreader as the Assembly polls. Daily COVID cases saw a 6,000 per cent increase between March 1 and April 22 in poll-bound Bengal and a 450 per cent spike between April 1 and April 17, when the Kumbh congregation dispersed. Why is it that our leaders, who certainly should know better, have to be forced by either the judiciary or the PMO to take decisions that should come to them naturally? Are our representatives so short of common sense or is it that political considerations take precedence over the well-being of citizens? What else can explain the local body elections in Uttar Pradesh and Telangana which will also turn out to be super-spreaders. If the Madras High Court thinks that the Election Commission officials should be “booked for murder” for the spiralling Corona cases in the poll-bound States, then what about the Uttarakhand CM? When everything is shut, as it ought to be, what is the justification behind holding the Kumbh, the Assembly polls and the local body elections? Shouldn’t the CMs of such States also be “booked for murder”?

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