From February 2020 to April 2021 Rahul Gandhi continuously raised various issues related to Covid19 pandemic, made useful suggestions and asked relevant questions. In response, govt lived in denial, Modi took a whole month to even utter the word COVID, and BJP leaders, ministers, troll army everybody attacked and mocked Rahul Gandhi for merely raising issues, only to do exactly what he suggested few days later. Here is a timeline of events.

First wave 2020

January 30, 2020 India’s first COVID case was reported.

February 12, 2020, Rahul Gandhi becomes the first political leader in India to mention COVID. “The Corona Virus is an extremely serious threat to our people and our economy. My sense is the government is not taking this threat seriously. Timely action is critical,” Rahul Gandhi Tweeted. On the same day, what was the Health Minister and Prime Minister doing? Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan was tweeting about the PM’s Mann Ki Baat. Modi was making announcement about Trump’s visit to India. He also attended the Times Now Summit and shared photos and videos from the summit on his Twitter.

Feb 13, as if prompted by Gandhi’s tweet, Dr Vardhan held a press conference in which he assured the nation that there was three months of medicine in stock. He did not mention the gravity of the pandemic.

Feb 24, PM Modi addressed a huge Namaste Trump event with Doland Trump. No COVID protocols were maintained during this time.

March 3, Dr Vardhan again advised people not to panic. “As a doctor, I would suggest follow personal hygiene but I don’t think that people need to panic here and wear a mask all the time at every nook and corner, out of fear,” he said.

March 5, reacting sharply to the downplaying of the pandemic threat, Rahul Gandhi again said, “The Health Minister saying that the Indian Govt has the #coronavirus crisis under control, is like the Capt of the Titanic telling passengers not to panic as his ship was unsinkable. It’s time the Govt made public an action plan backed by solid resources to tackle this crisis.”

But instead of any action plan, or instead of even acknowledging that such a plan is required, Dr Vardhan took offense at the Titanic comparison and targeted the Gandhi family, and made personal attack against Rahul Gandhi. “It’s really sad that Gandhi family chooses to demoralise our countrymen by likening a serious global crisis as #CoronaOutbreak to one of the deadliest peacetime marine disasters in history. Rahul Gandhi obviously ‘knows’ better than WHO which is saying there is no need to panic,” he said. 

As we have seen in last two years that WHO is no a holy grail and made several blunders. Rahul Gandhi indeed knew better than WHO which declared COVID19 as a Public Health Emergency on January 30, 2020 and as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020.

During the time Health Minister was downplaying covid threat the Prime Minister was creating sensational headlines by announcing that he would leave Twitter. Modi has so far not mentioned COVID anywhere either in his speeches or Tweets.

Rahul Gandhi was quick to remind the PM of the priorities. “Dear PMO, quit wasting India’s time playing the clown with your social media accounts, when India is facing an emergency. Focus the attention of every Indian on taking on the Corona virus challenge. Here’s how it’s done,” Rahul Gandhi said sharing a video of Singapore Prime Minister addressing the nation on COVID protocols.

On March 13, once again Rahul Gandhi said, “I will keep repeating this. The Corona virus is a huge problem. Ignoring the problem is a non a solution. The Indian economy will be destroyed if strong action is not taken. The government is in a stupor.”

On March 19, Modi came on TV to announce the janta lockdown and suggested that people should clap their hands from balcony at exactly 5 pm. This was the first time Modi even uttered the word COVID. Until this day not a word about the pandemic was heard from Modi. This was followed by more demands of similar gimmicks, lighting of candles and diyas at 9 pm, and banging of plates and pots on another time another day. Adhering to religious messaging Modi said, “Mahabharata war was won in 18 days and the war against covid would be won in 21 days.”

The rest is history. Throughout the year, the ruling dispensation ignored and downplayed the pandemic but kept mocking Rahul Gandhi.

Second wave, 2021

On Jan 28, 2021, just weeks before the second wave hit, Modi declared to the world from the platform of World Economic Forum at Davos that India had won the COVID war, and all predictions of a Tsunami like second wave had been foiled.

As always Rahul Gandhi was thinking ahead and could foresee the second wave. On Feb 17, he said, “GOI is being grossly negligent and overconfident about Covid-19. It’s not over yet.”

On April 9, Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked Rahul Gandhi for writing a letter to the PMO with a range of suggestion including the need to “fast-track approval for other vaccine candidates.” Prasad claimed that there was no vaccine shortage, called Gandhi a ‘failed part time politician’, questioned his motives and alleged him of “lobbying for pharma companies… for foreign vaccines.”

On April 13, four days after Gandhi wrote the letter, Centre went ahead and did exactly as suggested by him leaving Mr Prasad red faced.

From November 2020 Gandhi had been asking the government to share a clear strategy on vaccination. “The PM must tell the nation: Of all the Covid vaccine candidates, which will GOI choose and why? Who will get the vaccine first & what will be the distribution strategy? Will PM Cares fund be used to ensure free vaccination? By when will all Indians be vaccinated?” he tweeted on November 23, 2020.

None of these questions were answered. Vaccination process started in January 2021 in an erratic manner with Centre having exported 6 crore vaccines to around 90 nations presumably to enhance India’s diplomatic relations. As vaccine shortage started staring in the face and a rich-poor, urban-rural gap emerged the opposition started demanding free vaccine for all.

That demand was responded by the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on On April 6, 2021, when he said, “Many people ask why we should not allow vaccination for all. There are two aims of such vaccination drives – to prevent deaths and protect healthcare system. The aim is not to administer the vaccine to those who want it, but to those who need it.”

On April 7, Rahul Gandhi responded saying, “It is ridiculous to debate needs and wants. Every Indian deserves the chance to a safe life.”

On May 14, he raised the issue of erratic pricing of the vaccines. “The GOI’s vaccine policy is compounding the problem. Vaccine purchase should be centralised and distribution decentralised.”

On June 3, Supreme Court said that the Centre’s vaccination policy was “prima facie arbitrary and irrational”.

On June 7, Modi came on TV to blame the States, Opposition, sections of Media, past governments and anybody else he could think of, for its own arbitrary and irrational policies, and finally announced the same that Rahul Gandhi suggested in May, that vaccination would be centralized, States will not have to buy any vaccines.

The Centre had also taken few other measures suggested by the opposition such as providing free ration to the poor, direct cash transfer, cancellation of boards exam but only after mocking Rahul Gandhi for the suggestions and after causing unnecessary delay.

BJP Leader’s Irresponsible Statements During COVID Second Wave

BJP leaders statement made in the first week of April when the second wave had already hit:

“India’s fight against COVID is inspiring the world,” – Prime Minister Modi

“We are in End Game of the pandemic,” – Dr Harsh Vardhan the Health Minister. 

“Oxygen demand needs to be kept under control,” – Piyush Goyal.

“Coronil is certified by WHO for COVID treatment,” – Union Ministers Harsh Vardhan and Nitin Gadkari.

“The pandemic is over, we don’t need masks” – Himanta Biswa.

“Ma Ganga’s blessings are in flow so there should be no COVID,” said Tirath Singh Rawat.