It’s unfair to blame election for Covid spread: Dilip Ghosh

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With West Bengal witnessing an unprecedented surge in Covid cases, the BJP has decided to restrict the number of people at its rallies. Only 500 individuals will be allowed at the rallies to be addressed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and focus will shift to the digital medium.Dilip Ghosh, MP and President of BJP’s…

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With West Bengal witnessing an unprecedented surge in Covid cases, the BJP has decided to restrict the number of people at its rallies. Only 500 individuals will be allowed at the rallies to be addressed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and focus will shift to the digital medium.

Dilip Ghosh, MP and President of BJP’s Bengal unit, says linking the Covid surge “only to elections” is not right. Rather the outgoing Trinamool Congress government has failed on the public healthcare front, and is now using the Covid-surge to embark on a political blame-game, he alleged.

In an interview to BusinessLine, Ghosh talks about elections in Bengal in the backdrop of a surge in fresh infections and the changing political landscape here. Excerpts:

With Covid cases rising, the BJP has decided to curtail crowds at rallies. Should not such preventive steps been taken earlier?

Please understand, this is an emerging situation. When polls were announced, Bengal’s Covid graph was not rising this steeply. Things changed say mid-March onwards.

But it would be unfair to only blame elections as the cause of rise in Covid. States that are accounting for the highest infections, say Maharashtra, Delhi or Chhatissgarh, did not have any elections or political rallies there.

However, we are equally concerned about the rise in Covid cases here. So we are taking necessary precautions that include limiting people in rallies, raising awareness about use of masks, and so on.

For instance, the PM’s rally will not have more than 500 people and that too after ensuring all Covid protocols and following social distancing norms.

But mobilising 500 people also risks a substantial number of people.

The threat of spread is always there the moment a gathering happens.

If you go to any market in the city or the mandis in the suburbs there is always some crowd or gathering in large numbers. No Covid protocols are maintained and there is no one to check anything either. People do not wear masks. There is no system of punishment against such offenders either. So isn’t the risk of spread higher there?

The problem in West Bengal is: Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, has set a wrong example for everyone. At the peak of the first wave, she was going out on the streets drawing circles in bazaars. She was going out every-day. There has been no system of punishment against those who violated Covid protocols. Naturally, it gave the impression that if the Chief Minister can do it, why not us.

Moreover, Covid data in the State was at one point being highly skewed to present a rosy picture. All these have contributed to people not taking Covid-19 infections seriously.

Other States like Odisha are getting strict about Covid-specific behaviour in public spaces. It is high time such discipline be brought in here in Bengal.

But the Chief Minister across public meetings has blamed “outsiders” and BJP for spread of Covid?

The Trinamool and their Chief Minister is using Covid to hide their failures on the public health front. First they blamed eight-phased elections, then EVMs and Central forces, to create a fear pyschosis. It did not work. People came out and voted.

Now the idea is to blame ‘outsiders’ and Corona to see that voting does not take place. But, she and her party members were the first ones off the block with physical rallies even in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic. In May last year, one of her party members organised a rally in Bhangor with 20,000 people; no one wore masks. It is documented.

If the State government washes its hands off and does not take responsibility of people; then it will naturally give a wrong impression of things.

And this is exactly what has happened. Let me ask, how many times has the Chief Minister taken part in Covid review meetings in the midst of her campaigning?

Why did your name not crop up in the list of Assembly hopefuls?

The central leadership decided to pitch some MPs and senior leaders into the poll fray to build confidence about their seriousness on Bengal.

When I was asked, I pointed out that elections this time are not under normal circumstances. Worker morale has to be kept up and there needs to be continuous interactions with them in the backdrop of rampant political violence here. It was then that I was told to campaign extensively, hold meetings, and stand by with workers during these polling phases.

There are rumors of your name being in the CM’s fray. The opposition camp says, it will be Dilip Ghosh for CM as he is the “only face”?

So people believe we are winning elections. Calls on CM-ship are taken by the party top brass. Even in the case of Yogi (Adityanath), he was not a part of the poll fray.

In 2016, in 2019, the opposition projected us as headless and faceless in Bengal. Now they acknowledge me. Leaders are not born overnight. They work at the grassroots, connect with people and remain true to their ideologies. Give us some-time, you will see the leaders here too.

The Trinamool Congress is upset with the Prime Minister referring to their leader ‘didi-o-didi’,…

Are slogans raised by the Chief Minister herself in good taste? The language used by her to address the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and others have been atrocious.

She always justifies by saying that she is using valid Bengali words. Point is she has a problem with anything and everything that the BJP does. People and specially women voters are not that gullible to not see through Mamata Banerjee’s dramas and antics.

The CM has a problem with Jai Shri Ram slogans, because she knows that more than a religious one, it’s a protest call against her corrupt regime. All these sloganeering are signs of people going against her. Her political dramas are not finding takers. Naturally, she and her party are reacting.

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