With new Coronavirus clusters emerging across the country, the latest in line seems to be the state of Madhya Pradesh where the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has suddenly shot up to 1,164.
Initially, the state of Madhya Pradesh was struck with a political crisis after the downfall of Kamal Nath government in the state amidst the Coronavirus outbreak but Shivraj Singh Chouhan was sworn in as the Chief Minister in the nick of time. However, administration doesn’t seem to be managing the situation effectively.
There have been far too many lapses in the state, starting with the health department itself in which 94 officials have gotten infected with the novel Wuhan virus. These many health department officials themselves getting infected sounds both unfortunate and bizarre, and doesn’t paint a very good picture of the department’s preparation to take on the Pandemic.
Out of 166 cases in Bhopal, 94 confirmed cases are those of health department officials alone, and even the Managing Director of the National Health Mission has tested positive for the Chinese virus.
In fact, the top echelons of the state’s health department, including several IAS officers have got indisposed with the Coronavirus, and this weakens the state’s fight against COVID-19 catastrophically because those supposed to lead the fight against the virus are themselves grappling it with now.
In another shocking report coming from Bhopal, 10 policemen- a City Superintendent of Police (CSP), a Sub-Inspector and eight Constables, too have tested COVID-19 positive. The police personnel are believed to have got the infection from Tablighi Jamaat members, who were hiding in different mosques in the Madhya Pradesh capital.
Not just the police personnel, but five of their family members too have tested positive. There seems to be a clear lack of strategy to deal with the rogue Tablighi Jamaat members due to which the Tablighis seem to have succeeded in their efforts to infect the policemen.
The worst affected city in the state however turns out to be Indore with as many as 696 cases, coupled with as many as 39 out of 55 deaths in the state. In fact, disturbing reports have been coming in from Indore for quite some time now.
Videos had gone viral from the Tattpati Bakhal area of Indore, where a team of health workers was attacked by a rampaging mob, after the health workers arrived in the area to check for Coronavirus suspects and to save their lives. This had taken place amidst nationwide attacks on health workers and police personnel who had started looking for Tablighi Jamaat attendees who had gone into hiding after the Nizamuddin Markaz fiasco.
Days later the same area- Tattpati Bakhal had recorded a sudden surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and shockingly the graveyard in the area has also recorded a sharp rise in the number of dead bodies brought for burial.
By April 5, 44 dead bodies were already buried at the Tatpatti Bakhal graveyard as opposed to the modest number of 36 bodies that were brought in all of March.
At 57 sec rioter is asking for hot water, perhaps to throw on medical workers. Pathetic!!! https://t.co/TGVlzO8OPK
— Vikas Pandey (@MODIfiedVikas) April 1, 2020
This lady. This health worker who is risking it all for us says the mob wouldn't have left her alive had there been no police forces.
So much for women safety? Mob lynching outrage gang, how can you be such shameless hypocrites to skip this? pic.twitter.com/87M2lbCYKW
— Akshay Narang (@akshaynarang96) April 2, 2020
Beyond Indore and Bhopal too, the administration has not been up to the mark. Gwalior, for example, has been struck with a new kind of crisis with as many as 50 doctors appointed on contractual basis at Jayarogya Hospital of Government Gajra Raja Medical College tendering their resignation.
They have resigned after the state Medical Education Board sought their consent to extend the contract period beyond three months, but 50 out of the 82 contractual doctorsd declined the offer. The scare of Coronavirus has driven away the doctors, and according to News18, one of the doctors, speaking anonymously, said that once they accepted, they might not be able to quit as the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) could be invoked.
Even in Bhind, there have been reports of mismanagement that sound rather bizarre. 39 women who were on their way to withdraw Rs. 500 from their Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts, were detained by the police for violating social distancing norms, and action was also taken against them under Section 151 of the Indian Penal Code. Later, they were released from a makeshift jail on bonds of Rs. 1,000.
The number of deaths is also unusually high in Madhya Pradesh, which translates into higher case to fatality ratio. In Madhya Pradesh, there have been 55 deaths out of 1,164 confirmed cases. Compare this with Delhi where there are 1,640 confirmed cases and 38 deaths or Tamil Nadu with 1,267 confirmed cases and 15 deaths.
Worsening the situation in Madhya Pradesh is the delayed cabinet expansion. There is thus no Health Minister in a state which is continuously getting more and more engulfed in the Pandemic.
The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has formed a task force headed by state BJP President VD Sharma, which acts as an advisory body to the Chief Minister, but this is clearly not proving to be good enough especially when the Health Department itself seems to have become a chaotic hotspot with as many as 94 confirmed cases.
The BJP had managed to put up a close fight in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls contesting under Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s leadership. Yet it did lose the elections marginally. The Jyotiraditya Scindia–Kamal Nath tussle gave Chouhan an outside chance to come back in power. But now it is for him to prove and establish his governance skills all over again.
If Madhya Pradesh becomes one of the worst affected Coronavirus-hit states, which doesn’t seem very unlikely as of now, this could be all but curtains for the sitting Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister’s political career.