Though the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray hardly takes any cognizance on the letters of the leader of Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, but this time at least he should respond to the letter of Fadnavis in which he expressed concerns over the government’s failure to increase Coronavirus tests in Maharashtra, due to which there was a rise in Covid-19 cases last month, for a healthy democracy.
In a letter addressed to Chief Minister Thackeray, the Opposition leader Fadnavis said there was an urgent need to focus on increasing the number of tests in the state to bring the situation under control and get the wheels of the economy moving. The senior BJP leader pointed out that in July a daily average of 37,528 Covid-19 tests were conducted, while 64,801 tests were done in August – an increase of 42 per cent. In September, however, the number of tests went up by 26 per cent at 88,209.
The Opposition leader reminded that during an interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Maharashtra chief minister Thackeray had assured that his government would increase the tests to 1.5 lakh. But the statistics show it is way below the promised numbers. Of the total number of Covid-19 tests conducted in April, the infection percentage that month was 8.04 per cent. It rose to 18.07 per cent in May, and 21.23 per cent in July, but came down to 18.44 per cent in August due to increased number of tests, he said.
And if Fadnavis raised these issues through a letter and sought a clarification from the head of the state, he has certainly done a wonderful job as an Opposition leader of the state. Democracy stands out as the widely accepted form of government among most of the places for decades now mainly due to its cherished principle of rule of law that promises equality and freedom to all, ensured by the positive presence of checks and balances in the political system that would guard against any attempts by its leaders to tamper with it.
It is indeed these checks and balances in the rule of the majority that provide for an opportunity for the people to control their leaders and to dethrone them without the need for any revolution. These checks and balances come mainly, apart from the judiciary, in the form of the opposition party. As such, the opposition is one of the prerequisites for a healthy democracy in any states or the country.
In the background of historical evidence that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the opposition is but indispensable to pre-empt any attempts of the party in power to act against the will and interests of the people. And hence, Thackeray should come out with facts and respond to the letter of Fadnavis immediately. He should also inform the state that whether he had fulfilled his assurances to conduct test of Covid-19 upto 1.50-lakh people every day. He should not treat this letter in a cursory way and at least assure the people of the state that he is a sensible chief minister, who cares for everyone.
In the letter, Fadnavis pointed out that the scenario in Mumbai was no better. “The state’s daily average of Covid-19 test in Mumbai is merely 11,715. It resulted in the infection percentage jumping from 13.63 per cent in August to 17.50 in September. Even national capital Delhi has increased its daily tests to 40, 000,” he said. In Vidarbha, he said, the number of cases increased exponentially. “But there is a mismatch between cases and number of tests,” he further said.
A strong and effective opposition is the need of the hour to ensure that the coalition government in Maharashtra would perform “with minimum government and maximum governance”, be transparent, responsive and accountable and does not assume arbitrariness in its actions neglecting the interests of peop0le of the state. Fadnavis is performing as an excellent Opposition leader by highlighting the plights of the people of Maharashtra in this time of crisis. Now people of the state are awaiting a positive response from the chief minister in this regard!