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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Another exodus from Delhi as migrant workers are let down by Kejriwal, again

Another mass exodus of migrants from the nation’s capital courtesy of a malicious state government commanded by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has begun. Delhi is now the worst-hit city-state in the 2nd wave with one in three corona tests turning positive. The state ruled by Kejriwal for over 6 years, for all the ads blitz over the years, has messed up big-time and is now facing acute shortages of hospital beds, medical oxygen, and key medicines.

Running out of people to blame and with an exploding daily case load, Kejriwal needed to be seen as doing something, and so he imposed a weeklong lockdown. Before we get into the the consequences of this 2nd lockdown, let’s take our minds back to what transpired in Delhi when it had announced a lockdown last year. 

  • Delhi’s borders were sealed on Sunday, 22 March 2020 itself. That same day, CM Kejriwal announced a complete lockdown of the city-state with public transport coming to a grinding halt from 6 AM on 23rd March. So Delhi’s first lockdown came even before the PM announced nation-wide lockdown on evening of 24th March.
  • In the words of an AAP founder and former member of Kejriwal’s inner circle, this is what ensued – “First, gather poor & desperate people on the roads by spreading rumours that buses have been arranged to take everyone to their villages. Then announce on twitter, where none of those poor can see your message – ‘Stay here! We will provide food, drink and medicine!’ – to save your face. The whole nation is forced to see this pre-planned cruel tragedy unfold before our eyes”
  • By the night of lockdown itself, i.e. 25th March, reports started trickling in of migrant workers, including those with families and little children, walking out of Delhi to return to their native places. By the next day, this trickle had turned into a flood.
  • UP laborers who returned from Delhi told Amar Ujala, “Delhi government cut electricity and water supplies in our areas. There was no provision for food and milk during lockdown. Many Delhi officials kept making announcements and spreading rumours that buses are standing on the UP-Delhi border to take people back to UP and Bihar. DTC buses were running which dropped people off at the UP-Delhi border.
  • A migrant labourer walking in middle of night on 28th March carrying a sleeping child, told a reporter “Arvind Kejriwal did not make any arrangements for us – he only helped those with Delhi residency papers.”

And now history is repeating itself. Kejriwal is making appeals on social media in his trademark style for ‘migrant workers to believe him, to trust him’. But on the ground, history is repeating itself and workers are crowding the bus stands to move back to their homes in UP, Bihar, and West Bengal.

Delhi – One out of three is Covid positive

A partisan national media was back doing what it does best – covering the migrant misery and blaming lockdowns, still not asking any tough questions of the state governments in Delhi and Maharashtra which are allowing this human tragedy to unfold all over again. 

The publicity-hungry, self-centered and self-proclaimed anarchist who appears every five minutes on television (usually boasting about the AAP’s imaginary medical facilities) announced a lockdown in the afternoon that would start the same night! Having shamelessly usurped nearly 512 crores of public funds on his advertising blitz (his Delhi-centric party’s ads bombard TV viewers in south as well for some reason), this is what Kejriwal had to say while announcing the lockdown-

“I appeal to all that this is a small lockdown of six days. Please don’t leave Delhi. I assure you that the government will look after you,” said the Chief Minister.

The trustworthiness that Kejriwal has amongst the common citizens became pretty apparent immediately. People packed their bags and started to leave. The Delhi CM and his incompetent close coterie watched on  as bus stations and railway platforms started filling up with people of all ages desperate to reach their hometowns. The migration had begun. 

Last time, PM Modi was targeted for what was called a ‘sudden and draconian’ lockdown, notwithstanding the fact that faced with a pandemic about which the world knew little, and without the basic tools like testing centres, PPE kits etc to fight it, a lockdown was a reasonable move then. But even then, several state governments like TN, Telangana, Karnataka had done all they could to provide for stranded migrant workers. What is Kejriwal and his apologist’s excuse for failing the migrants which toil for his city, all over again?

Interestingly most of the people evacuating were from the low to the middle-income group of daily wage earners. They toil hard just to provide a couple of meals to their families, just enough to survive. All that Kejriwal and his party had to do was promise and deliver exactly that. But just like last year, he has stood by cynically while panic-stricken workers flee. 

This points to a deeper conspiracy and it seems like Kejriwal is hoping that this migration would reduce the Covid-19 cases in Delhi and also that some of the returning migrants might become carriers of the 2nd wave to other states – spiking their numbers and making him look better by comparison. This would not be the first time that he is employing such filthy tactics. 

In contrast to his shoddy treatment of migrants, Kejriwal and his sycophants had pampered the farmers and dubious protestors who have laid siege to Delhi’s borders, and who resorted to horrific violence around Red Fort on Republic Day. The rioters that Kejriwal backed ended up creating havoc on the streets of Delhi with their sword/ tractor antics. The AAP knew from intelligence reports about Khalistani terrorist infiltration but went ahead and provided them with free blankets, langars, sanitation facility, water, and even WiFi so that they could chit-chat with friends and family!

Shady characters like Rakesh Tikait and his supporters were also encouraged to stay put at their own ‘protest sites’ with the administration even supplying the Covid vaccines near those sites. Tikait had earlier advised the government to provide vaccines to protesting farmers. 

Kejriwal has also shamelessly been playing a blame game over medical oxygen, claiming that  UP is denying the same to Delhi. 

Kejriwal is a shrewd operator who knows that in the midst of chaos there is a great opportunity. With leaders like these, who needs enemies? Sadly, our entire system of multi-party liberal democracy and its colonised institutions are geared to promote mind-games and brinksmanship of the Kejriwal variety.   

Interestingly, having sat on the issue of the critical Delhi road blockades in the name of Farm bills for many months, the Supreme Court has finally come out and asked the squatters to vacate. What took them so long is still a mystery. Will they move or continue to assemble and spread the virus remains to be seen. These are matters that each and every Delhiite would do well to remember, the next time he or she gets to vote. People of UP, Bihar and other states who come to Delhi for work, should also remember this experience the next time Kejriwal and other ‘seculars’ come asking for votes.  

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