Over two lakh people have died in the country due to Covid-19 since the pandemic hit India last year, according to official figures. Of these, nearly one fourth — over 48,000 — have died just in the last month as the second Covid wave engulfed the country.
More than 3,000 patients passed away just Tuesday in a span of 24 hours. Very many of those who have died in the second wave are people who couldn’t find hospital beds or oxygen cylinders or even the most basic medical aid on time.
The second wave has seen a collapse of the health infrastructure across the country but especially in places like Delhi and Uttar Pradesh — with Covid patients scrambling for medical resources.
But for ministers of the Narendra Modi government, it’s almost as if there is a parallel reality that exists — one where PM Modi is the “champion of the poor”, ensuring “uninterrupted supply of oxygen”, for which he needs to be thanked — constantly.
Even as social media platform Twitter is flooded with requests for help and SOS calls for beds and oxygen cylinders, the ministers are perpetually in a state of gratitude towards the PM.
A look at the posts shared by the PM’s cabinet members on Twitter over the past couple of weeks showed that they’ve been constantly expressing their gratitude to him for a range of things. Sometimes, it’s for oxygen cylinders and other times, it’s for boosting medical supplies from other countries. When it’s not for either, then it’s for the vaccine drive.
Most of these tweets are crafted in a similar fashion, and the ministers began posting them 20 April onwards — the same date when PM Modi addressed the nation over Covid last.
Hardik abhinandan and humble thanks: Modi’s ministers to Modi
Union Minister for Education Ramesh Pokhriyal Monday extended his “humble thanks” to the PM for “authorising key decisions to boost the availability of medical personnel to fight Covid-19”.
The minister had just last week thanked the PM for setting up 551 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Oxygen generation plants in public health facilities across the country through the PM CARES fund.
This is only one among the several tweets put out by ministers of the Modi cabinet singing paeans of his work, and almost always, thanking him for it.
Home Minister Amit Shah was among the first few ministers to begin the practice of thanking Modi for Covid-related work. Last month, he thanked the PM for allocation of funds to set up oxygen generation plants across the country.
Soon, other ministers followed suit.
Union Minister for Skill Development Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of Fisheries and Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh, also expressed his “hardik abhinandan” for PM Modi for the same.
Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat also put out a similar tweet on 25 April stating how this step will ensure there is no shortage of oxygen and that it will strengthen India’s battle against the pandemic. And of course, he didn’t fail to thank the PM either.
In a span of three days between 25 and 28 April, BJP national president J.P. Nadda thanked the PM twice: Once for allocating funds to install 551 PSA Oxygen Generation Plants, and then again for sanctioning the procurement of 1 lakh oxygen concentrators.
There have been harrowing reports of deaths due to oxygen shortage in several parts of the country, including in Karnataka.
But that didn’t deter Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines, from lauding the PM for his “all-out approach against Covid and approval to procure 1 lakh oxygen concentrators utilising the PMCARE funds”.
He too thanked the PM for increasing Karnataka’s Remdesivir allocation and daily oxygen because of his persuasion.
Nadda said this was a big push to augment the supply of oxygen in demand clusters, especially in district headquarters and tier-2 cities.
Giriraj Singh went a step ahead to defend the country’s PM for the criticism coming his way for poor management of Covid in India amid the second wave. Singh posted on Twitter on 26 April:
Among their own tweets, many of these ministers have also been retweeting each other’s posts on Twitter, particularly, those that praise and thank the PM for his Covid management.
Gratitude at least once each day over last week
Many of the cabinet ministers also tweeted in unanimity about the PM’s decision to provide 5 kg per person per month free food grains to nearly 80 crore people in India over the month of May and June.
Lauding the pandemic relief announced by Narendra Modi on 23 April, his cabinet ministers took to their Twitter accounts one by one and praised the move.
The pattern is similar: Each of these tweets tag the PM and thank him for some Covid-related work or another.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, among other colleagues, who has been receiving a lot of flak online his poor management of the second wave of Covid in India also expressed his gratitude to the PM.
This trend also showed that while the ministers put out similarly worded tweets on the same issue on a particular day, at least one cabinet minister has been putting out a tweet thanking him nearly every day since the past one week.
Delay in vaccination drive, but PM must be thanked nonetheless
While the vaccination drive for those in the 18-44 age group has been getting delayed in many parts of the country, PM Narendra Modi’s council of ministers didn’t leave the opportunity to thank him on the day of the announcement on 19 April.
Due to the shortage of vaccines, the drive was delayed in many states and didn’t start on 1 May as announced by the Government of India.
“Thank you, PM Shri @narendramodi ji for leading the battle against Covid. The decision to allow all those above 18 to get vaccinated will strengthen our fight against Covid,” Pralhad Joshi tweeted on the same day.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat also put out a similar tweet on the same day.
Among other things, the same politicians also expressed their regard to the PM for waiving basic custom duty and health cess on oxygen and oxygen-related equipment. “Covid related vaccines are also exempted from customs duty,” J.P. Nadda posted last week.
Shekhawat also thanked the PM for the same stating how “(t)his will help scale up the battle against the pandemic at this hour of a global crisis”. ThePrint