It is a sign of either its inability or unwillingness to tackle the now deadly outbreak of chikungunya that the Delhi government is trying to politicise the whole issue in its efforts to pass the buck. “It (the outbreak) has been created by you (media) by spreading panic,” Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said even after the disease had claimed seven lives. The minister, after having been absent for quite a while, is now inspecting city hospitals to arrange treatment for dengue and chikungunya victims. This is clearly an instance of shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted. The municipal corporations have added their two bit worth by blaming the public for the spread of the disease, despite clear evidence that they did not even utilise the funds they had under the Swachh Bharat Mission, which they could have used for sanitation. Earlier Mr Jain has said that no one dies of chikungunya after returning from Goa, where he was campaigning for AAP. The politicisation of the issue is evident from a tweet by Mr Jain in which he laments the fact that the chief minister has no powers and all power vests in the lieutenant governor (LG).
The LG is also not in the Capital and neither is the chief minister. However, instead of trying to play the blame game, the Delhi government should have taken help from the Centre to put in place measures for treatment and prevention. Instead, it continued to nurse its sense of grievance at the Delhi high court decision giving primacy to the LG in matters of administering Delhi. In a crisis situation like the one which is upon Delhi at the moment, the ministers who are away should have been recalled and all of them should have contributed to efforts to contain the outbreak.
The blame for the fact that the health secretary is on leave has also been laid at the LG’s doorstep. The Delhi government has now made assurances that it is fully prepared to deal with the situation. If so, we would like to know what its blueprint is. Planning should have begun well before the rains. But clearly, nothing of any significance was done. Now that people are suffering and dying, the government should not waste any time in this unproductive effort to shift the responsibility to everyone but itself. Fighting elections in other states is a legitimate exercise but not at the cost of the people who have elected AAP to office. If AAP wanted to prove its mettle, now was the time. But, it has cleared failed in this with catastrophic effect for the people of Delhi.