Every Indian had few questions in their mind, when they turned on their TV sets at 8 PM on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, to listen to the Prime Minister Narandra Modi.

Their questions were; will there be extension to lock down 3.0? What government has achieved in containing the Covid-19 and what are its future plans? What efforts government is making to revive the economy? What efforts are being made to mitigate the plight of the migrant workers? What instructions he will give to de-communalize the society? What instructions he will be giving to the media to refrain from Muslim profiling?

In the thirty four minutes of his address to the nation, the Prime Minister had nothing to say about the last three questions. His silence spoke thousand words and his indifferent to the problems faced by the country made him a pygmy before the eyes of the countrymen.

The Prime Minister told the people that the lock down 4.0 will come into effect from May 18, but this will be different from the previous ones. The new set of rules and regulations which he indicated to be made public before May 18 will be more relaxed than earlier lock downs.

The Prime Minister gave no details about his achievements in the 49 days of lock down except that 2 lakh PPE kits and 2 lakh N95 masks are being manufactured in India daily. The Prime Minister did not reflect upon the medical preparedness that the government has made during days in lock down period nor about the ways and means to cope up with the escalating Covid 19 cases.

He did not mention about the number of thermal testing kit that is made available for the testing of the the Covid-19 case nor he gave any details about its import from China. He remained silent whether will it be made under his flagship scheme ‘made in India.’ And if so when?

The most important thing our Prime Minister said was; ‘we have to save ourselves from the novel virus and also move ahead at the same time.’ In other words, this was his future plan to deal with Covid-19.

The PM on the 49th day of the lock down told nation to live with the enemy and yet move on with their lives. In other words Prime Minister obliquely hinted; when rape becomes inevitable enjoy it!

With regard to the revival of the economy PM announced a financial package of Rs 20 lakh crore which he said was 10% of India’s GDP. Even though he elaborated that this financial package is meant to focus on farmers, laborers and middle class’s development, eyebrows are raised on the actual figures that will be delivered to the people.

Some analysts have deconstructed the announcement of Rs 20 lakh crore packages. They held the view that only 4.4 lakh crore will actually be made available to the public.

Breaking down Rs 20 lakh crore, the analyst say that the government has already announced 1 lakh and 67 crore package first and then 8.4 lakh crore shortly after the lock down. This together makes about 10 lakh crore.

Now with the remain 10 lakh crore, some 6 lakh crore has already been committed earlier but has never been disbursed. So in such case, what is left in the end is about 4.4 lakh crore.

Now with this amount the PM announced the mantra of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ or the movement for making India self-reliant. He boasted India’s self-reliance goals will be based on five pillars; ‘economy, infrastructure, technology driven system, vibrant demography and demand.’

Such claims have become a laughing stock in the private circle of the country. One high spirit guy said, ‘it’s all gas and no fog.’

Notwithstanding the fact India, since more than seventy years or so has been struggling to achieve the self-reliance goal. In 1990, when the country’s economy was in deep trouble, the policy of liberalization of the economy pulled the country of woods.

Now does this ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of PM Modi is an attempt to take back the country back to pre-1990 era was the doubt raised in the minds of the people hearing him for the fifth time since he announced the first lock down.

In the fifth address to the nation, the Prime Minster has taken a complete U turn in dealing with the Covid-19. Now he is not talking about war and victory but he wants the countrymen to live with the enemy and protect them-self. This is a change of strategy when he announced the first lock down on March 24.  At that time the PM declared the war on Covid-19 and centralized the power in his hands.

Invoking Disaster Management Act he reduced the state governments to non-entity and obliterated the federal structure of India. The power drunken PM on March 24, 2020, when he announced the midnight lock down said that Mahabhrata war was won in 18 days, now he will defeat the Corona virus in 21 days. A few days back he had asked the countrymen to do the clapping and beating the tin to defeat the virus.

When nothing happened after the 21 days of lock down, he no more talked about winning the war. He extended the lock down to another 19 days saying ‘Jab Jan hai to jahan hai’ meaning giving importance to saving life first, than to reviving the economy.

As he announced the second lock down, the PM was confident to lead the nation to victory against the unknown enemy. That’s when he asked the people to light the candle by switching off the light first and from darkness come to the light again.

There was a change of strategy in dealing with the Covid-19, when the 40 days period was over and the country was subjected to the third lock down.  Now for the first time the state governments were consulted to deal with the containment of the Corona virus.

Our PM completely forgot about winning the war virus and delegated all the responsibility to the states to deal with the pandemics. He now talked about having ‘Jan aur jahan’ both, meaning giving importance to life and revival of the economy at the same time.

However, still being the C-in-C of the nation, he did the third gimmick when he asked the Air Force to shower petals from the helicopters at the hospital to cheer up the front-line warriors of Covid-19. This was being done at a time when famished migrant workers had hit the roads were on their way to their home, some traveling long distance on foot.

As the Air force choppers flew past them, these battered and bruised mortals cursed the rulers who had no remorse towards them and lived in ivory towers.

It was also a time when the liquor shops were opened to fill the coffers of the cash starved states. And at this, the thirsty crow made a bee line to the gates of the wine shops.

To this, a holy spirit commented, when you elect a joker, circus is obvious. And that’s literally what happened during the lock down 3.0 when isolation, social distancing were all thrown overboard.

Now, while announcing the fourth lock-down, our PM realized that the corona virus cannot be defeat and the people have to save them-self and also move ahead with their life. In saying these words, the Prime Minister looks like relinquishing his role as a savior of the country that he professed to be while announcing the first lock down.

In the war against Corona virus, our C-n-C has jumped from the mudguard to the rear guard and has taken position as he would be the last to die.

Like Shylock, the antagonist in William Shakespeare’s drama ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ our ‘Maut ka Saudagar’ (merchant of death) has taken the rear position while pushing the countrymen to face the unseen enemy upfront. This is the most chilling facet of this ‘Thug of Hindustan.’


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can becontacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com


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