Amid prevalent chaos and uncertainty over access to the essential services and commodities during the lockdown that ends on May 31 and people are now fade up with the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s belaboured but hollow Facebook lives, the Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra has not improved at all in the past two months. Chief minister Thackeray’s ambitious target of overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic by the time the monsoon starts also flopped as the state now contributes over 36 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases in the country; it records more than 2,000 new cases on an average every day . Moreover, the state’s Covid-19 mortality rate is 3.25 per cent, above the national average of 2.86 per cent.
Last fortnight, the Sena supremo and the chief minister announced that the state wants to get rid of this calamity by the beginning of monsoon. However, the administration could not succeed to prevent the pandemic and now the number of cases and mortalities are highest in the country.
Political observers and opposition here say that the onus for this failure clearly lies upon Thackeray’s over his clumsy notions and over dependence on administration, just as it does upon the unnatural alliance wherein governance was never even remotely on the agenda.There is still a rift among the allies. The Congress youth icon Rahul Gandhi sought to distance his party from the handling of the coronavirus crisis in Maharashtra, saying that the Congress was not the “key decision-maker” in the ruling coalition in the state.
Surprisingly, Congress is a major ally of the Maha-Vikas-Aghadi government, led by Uddhav Thackeray.The resentment among his (Thackeray) allies within the government could be gauged from the fact that the former Mumbai Regional Congress chief and ex-MP, Sanjay Nirupam had openly criticised Chief Minister Thackeray, alleging that he keeps changing his policy decisions on the crisis. Congress, along with the NCP and Shiv Sena, governs Maharashtra in an alliance called the Maha-Vikas-Aghadi.
While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his colleague, former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, have clearly shrugged off the party’s responsibility for the Maharashtra fiasco.
Sharad Pawar has had long meetings with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, but we don’t know if the meetings were to offer positive inputs or to manipulate the government to extract gains for the NCP.
Besides, not a senior Congress leaders, including Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat are hardly visible in this crisis in the state while Sharad Pawar, the senior ministers, Rajesh Tope, Anil Deshmukh, Jayant Patil, Supriya Sule and Jitendra Ahwad (all NCP) are very proactive while giving statements and TV discussions.
This indicates that the Congressmen are working half-heartedly in the time of crisis.
But one of the major allies that is very active and visible—NCP—wants relaxation of Lockdown in view of revival of industries and trade in the state. But CM Thackeray is not in a mood to relax in lockdown and that he was willing to face flak for it. “I am willing to face criticism but it would not be feasible to lift lockdown at this stage. We know what happened in the US and Europe,” he said last fortnight and now indicated to extend the lockdown in Mumbai and Pune.
Up till now people appreciated chief minister Thackeray’s focus on not letting the pandemic spin out of control; every effort must indeed be made to keep a tight lid on fatalities. But, at the same time, how much longer can Mumbai afford to be kept under strict lockdown? The rest of India is gradually returning to a new normal. Delhi, despite rising infections, has opened up public transport, including buses and is willing to restart the Metro, offices at full capacity, shops and markets, parks, even sports complexes.