Think about early June, when everyone was beginning to say: Oh shit! What about Delhi?
Our bustling capital was in the biggest trouble ever. Lakhs of lives and millions of livelihoods were at stake. Not to mention that the capital is the nerve center of the political, military and diplomatic leadership of the country.
The Chief Minister of Delhi, who has made work shirking into an art form, was predictably missing in action. Instead of doing something, he opened up public deliberations on the completely bullshit issue of whether outsiders should be allowed treatment in Delhi. As I have explained in many previous blogs (and as anyone with common sense can see), Corona is not complicated surgery that somebody would travel long distances for treatment. Typically, there’s need for an oxygen cylinder and maybe a ventilator. The specter of people traveling from distant states to Delhi for an oxygen cylinder was fake. A deliberate distraction. A Corona patient does not need sophisticated treatment methods, they just need a place where the hospitals are less full. Indeed, some people died escaping from Delhi to other states, not running towards it.
But then the exponential curve started rising so savagely that Kejriwal’s distraction tactics stopped working. Manish Sisodia went out and declared that there would be 5.5 lakh cases in Delhi by July end, as if setting a target. Delhi govt wasn’t testing, Delhi govt was just bullshitting. The test positive rate had soared to nearly 35%. And that’s an underestimation. The Delhi govt was barely testing at all in East Delhi, where the positive rate was a staggering 75%! This is also where the poorest and most downtrodden folks in Delhi live: the Aam Aadmi.
That’s when Kejriwal bolted from the scene and Amit Shah took the stage.
Within days, the number of tests increased four times. Central govt officers were temporarily appointed to oversee things. Railway coaches were readied to deal with surge in cases. And within days, there was a 10,000 bed Covid hospital ready, built by the Railway, on land made available by a local Hindu/Sikh religious organization (this latter part went completely unnoticed, for obvious reasons).
Looking back, it can be said with near certainty that it is at this point that the Covid curve for Delhi began to flatten. The liberals noticed too. Shivam Vij, the weeping philosopher of Khan Market, wrote a long article bleating about how Kejriwal has surrendered to Amit Shah.
More than a month later, Delhi’s curve looks much more reassuring. The recovery rate is probably the highest in India.
And funnily enough, Kejriwal has come crawling back, out of the hiding and is actually starting to claim credit.
The pity is that Delhi BJP has totally and completely failed to communicate how the Center saved Delhi.
Now you may ask: how does it matter? Everyone already knows how Kejriwal made a mess and bolted. And how Shah stepped in. For example, the AAP was mocked by the public when they claimed to have built the 10,000 bed hospital, named after Sardar Patel 🙂 Yeah, everyone could crack that code. Everyone knows why it is called Sardar Patel Covid Center and not Aam Aadmi Covid center. The code is (deliberately) simple and we can all crack it.
That is true. For now. Because it’s a recent memory. But the Delhi election is not today. It is in February 2025. Here is what I see. I see the AAP working hard at the repetition game. They are out there telling people that they saved Delhi. They were thoroughly mocked 3 weeks ago. This week, a little less so. As the memory fades, so will the mocking. By Feb 2025, people will think AAP really did save Delhi.
You can’t blame the public. How much energy has Delhi BJP invested into telling the people what the Center did? Indeed, the Delhi BJP has a very “un-BJP like” characteristic. They don’t seem to care very much because they know the election is five years away. They will wake up before the election. AAP may not do very much but Kejriwal is an indefatigable campaigner. He is campaigning for full five years. If Delhi BJP sits around, they will lose again and again, which they have made a habit by now.
Honestly, I do not understand what is wrong with the BJP’s Delhi unit. It is unique in the sense that it has gone without power for the longest period among all state units. Of course, I am counting here only states where BJP is relevant. There is no other state which has seen a BJP govt and then lost six elections in a row.
Where is the hunger for power and victory that we see from other BJP units, from UP to Maharashtra to Bengal?