India’s prime minister Narendra Modi is under intense pressure to announce a national lockdown after India reported the highest number of deaths with covid-19 over a 24 hour period.
Mr. Modi had resisted the measure in the build-up to regional elections, where his party is trying to extend its influence. But with the polls now over, the prime minister has been meeting senior officials to review the situation. Our correspondent is in Delhi.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his last address with the public when the regional polls were going on, had stopped short of announcing a national lockdown, saying it’s up to the states to decide whether they want to have a mini lockdown and it should only be used as a last resort because livelihoods of a lot of people in India, almost 90 percent of the workforce, which is in the informal sector, is dependent on odd jobs and daily wages that they get in various states.
And if there’s a lockdown, then what happens to those people? We’ve seen a migrant crisis where a majority of the migrants staying in the cities have walked back to their homes without any transport, at least in the first month of the lockdown. There were reports of how many people walked on foot and also experienced fatigue. And that’s the situation that the government wants to avoid at the moment. But experts say it’s just a race against time. The extent of the pandemic right now is quite different from last year.
Are we seeing more? A record number of deaths, over 3600 being reported, a record number of cases, over 400000 reported across the country earlier this week. And these are the numbers that require bold, decisive steps and national lockdown. Could be the way of dealing with this crisis at the moment to save as many lives as possible.
And what about the politics? Because obviously we’ve seen those polls open and close. What is the expected impact, if it’s possible to judge the stage on the prime minister and his party?
Well, the ruling Hindu Nationalist Party was betting quite high on at least one of the states, which is the eastern state of West Bengal, where it was in a neck and neck fight with the regional party, the TMC there. But having faced a defeat, according to the early trends at this moment, it seems that the stamp of approval that the party was hoping for, for its for India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, his political capital, his trust that people seem to have on him with a majority of votes that he got in the national elections has been a hit to quite an important extent, because this was an election that was also seen as a referendum to his policies during the Corbitt crisis and the first wave.
He had provided relief to many of the poor people, announcing schemes like monetary help and daily rations as well, and that hope to capitalize on that. The political ramifications from here will be that what experts have been pointing out, that India needs decisive steps from its policymakers and leaders to impress them. And that’s where now India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has been focusing, it seems, his energies because yesterday morning he had a review meeting about resources of oxygen distribution and also essential medical supplies and Corbitt hotspots. And he has promised action in the coming few days.