Former INC president Rahul Gandhi reduced to a butt of jokes again today when he slammed the government for ‘failed’ COVID-19 lockdown saying that no such measure was taken even during the (Second?) World War. Gandhi, in conversation with the managing director of Bajaj Auto, said that COVID-19 lockdown, the way it has been implemented in India, may have been worse than world war era. “I don’t think even during the world war, the world was locked down. Even then, things were open,” Gandhi said.
Since it was a scripted dialogue, nobody questioned Rahul Gandhi whether a war is a viral attack or whether he had heard of curfews and night curfews in areas that were targets of air raids by Allied and Axis Powers.
“Plans to blackout British coastal towns in the event of war were drawn up in 1913 by Winston Churchill in his role as First Lord of the Admiralty; these plans were implemented on 12 August 1914, eight days after the United Kingdom had entered the war.”
— Marc P Wiggam’s “The Blackout in Britain and Germany during the Second World War”
“On 1 October 1914, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police ordered that bright exterior lights were to be extinguished or dimmed in the London area and street lamps be partially painted out with black paint.”
— Ian Castle’s The First Blitz: Bombing London in the First World War
The INC president’s guest on the online event, Rajiv Bajaj, while criticising the lockdown as “draconian”, drew no analogies from history, though.
Bajaj, from a family known to be critical of the Narendra Modi government, said further that by virtue of its location, India should have looked east in dealing with COVID-19 situation and not compared its situation with European nations. “The way India has been locked down is a draconian lockdown. This kind of lockdown, I’m not hearing about from anywhere else. All my friends and family from across the world have always been free to step out, to take a walk, to go and buy something they require, to go and visit someone and say hello. So in terms of the social and emotional aspects of this lockdown, they seem to have been in a much better place,” Bajaj said in response.
INC leader Rahul Gandhi said that the world had not gone through a lockdown even during the World War, as it has faced today due to the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s quote surreal. I don’t think anyone imagined that the world would be locked down in this way. I don’t think that even during the World War, the world was locked down. I think even then things were open. it’s a unique and devastating phenomenon,” said Gandhi.
Gandhi alleged that while the wealthy population of the country had an ecosystem to deal with the lockdown, the economically weaker sections of the society “have lost confidence”.
Bajaj said that the Indian system had “fallen very short of disclosing facts, logic and the truth” in dealing with COVID-19 crisis. He further said that India should have dealt with the crisis, keeping in mind its geographic location and not by likening its situation to European and western nations such as Italy, France, Spain, the UK and the US.
“And now to change the mind of people and bring them back on board, and make them comfortable with the thought of living with the virus, which seems to be the new narrative coming from the government now. It is going to take a long time,” he said.
Gandhi then held a conversation with Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee who had said India should come out with a large enough stimulus package to revive demand.
The former INC chief last week spoke to globally renowned public health experts – Professor Ashish Jha of Harvard Global Health Institute and Swedish epidemiologist Johan Giesecke.