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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 25, New Delhi, June 5, 2021

PM Modi reinventing politics to shift blame for the Covid-19 crisis | Nafis Haider

Friday 4 June 2021

by Nafis Haider

In face of the current intersectional crisis brought by the second wave of Covid-19, PM Modi tends to maintain his charisma and authority by following the Machiavellian politics of shedding off the blame for bad deeds and taking credit for the achievements.

Modi government is trying to play dual card to save its image from the Covid-19 crisis. Firstly by blaming the public on personal level, appealing to their religious as well as spiritual emotions by making their suffering look like a predestined act of god which has befallen on them because of their mistakes and also because of their carelessness.

Amitabh Kant, chief executive of NITI Aayog, government’s primary policy making think tank said that instead of blaming the government and the institution, he would tend to blame the people of India also. “All of us need to be far more responsible.” he said. “It is very important than the people of India become disciplined”. [1] BJP Government is also using the vast social media network to promote positive image of the Prime Minister as working hard for the nation and curb any expression of ‘negativity’ which is antithetical to the claims made by the government.

Secondly by placing the responsibility of death at an institutional level on the shoulders of the state government. The Modi government is following up the mechanism of Machiavellian politics where the ruler appoints its deputy to do all the killing and impose a ruthless regime in a state and then the ruler comes to hang him to death and emerge as the savior of the people. The long delayed address to the citizenry of India come when the oxygen in not in that scarcity and medical help is starting to gain pace for the people shows that the government is ready to let the states take all the blame for the deaths due to inefficiency and lack of medical help, stating that the center has guaranteed the state the autonomy to handle the crisis as they see fit, and come to the take all the credit when things become better.

Modi government is not taking any responsibility on the Covid crisis in India because the time for it to take any responsibility has passed and with the crisis and number of deaths increasing and the inefficiency of the center which has caused this crisis to worsen, any statement from the side of the center to ease the problem will only backfire. Moreover, if the government accept the surge and the necessity to act when the Covid-19 second wave was on starting, it would have to denounce events like the Kumbh Mela and the rallies [2] which were organized by BJP and participated with all pompousness by PM Modi himself. That would have become contradictory to the previous record of making people believe that whatever Modi has done in past, he has done well. The only option remaining was to play dead until the time is right and shoulder all responsibility on the state governments so that Central government is absolved from any blame when the crisis subsides. In the national lockdown of 2020, Centre greatly consolidated power but now it has left the states to themselves, knowing well that the states won’t be able to handle everything on their own in the face of an uncooperative Centre and the failure of the states will then provide for a greater consolidation of power by the Centre.

PM Modi reportedly said in the meeting [3] with the chief ministers of Indian states that the future path for the country will be determined on the basis of the suggestions by the states. In the name of federalism and decentralization of power, Central government is leaving the states to suffer since the present crisis needs national coordination for the movement of migrants, transport and communication. By not implementing central lockdown and not taking the responsibility of vaccination in the hands of the central government, Modi government is absolving itself of its fundamental duties and fooling the people of its grave inefficiency to handle the Covid crisis.

Modi government is affectively trying to shape public opinion in its favor by blaming the states for the worsening crisis rather than the center. “We cannot blame everything on Modiji. He is doing what he can from above. It is the responsibility of Nitish Kumar to look after his state, not Modiji”, spoke Rajesh Kumar, a daily wage worker who was getting his wife treated at Patna AIIMS. There is a growing consensus among the lower middle class that if the fatality rate is higher in their state and lower in the other states like Kerala and Maharashtra, it is because their state government is unable to handle the crisis, not the Modi government.

(Author: Nafis Haider is studying Political Science at Aligarh Muslim University)


[1Amy Kazmin, Benjamin Parkin and Jyotsna Singh. How India’s Covid-19 crisis diminished Narendra Modi (Financial Times, May 13, 2021) https://www.ft.com/content/dcc6a9eb-b28f-40c3-84ee-6aa053d87e05

[2Joanna Slater and Niha Masih. In India’s surge, a religious gathering attended by millions helped the virus spread (The Washington Post, May 8 2021) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/08/india-coronavirus-kumbh-mela/

[3Indian Today Web Desk. States demand autonomy, PM calls for balanced strategy as India reports 4,200 Covid-19 cases in 1 day (India Today, May 12, 2020) https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/states-demand-autonomy-pm-calls-for-balanced-strategy-as-india-reports-4-200-covid-19-cases-in-1-day-1676928-2020-05-12

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