By Arré Bench Apr. 09, 2020
Maharashtra’s status as the state with the most coronavirus cases has given many Twitter users the opportunity to mock Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership. Others are comparing Gujarat’s “sanghi model” against Kerala’s “commie model”. But a global pandemic is not the time for petty politics.
Last week, Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that in addition to the coronavirus, India was also fighting a second, equally deadly communal virus. He was alluding to the growing trend in India of painting all Indian Muslims with the same brush after the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi turned out to be a coronavirus hotspot. Now, as the number of cases in Maharashtra continue to surge, having crossed over 1,000 positive coronavirus patients, there is a third virus on the scene – the virus of petty politics.
Liberals applauding Uddhav Govt for topping the Corona list 😉 pic.twitter.com/EbDeRfaDvn
— Rishi Bagree 🇮🇳 (@rishibagree) April 4, 2020
The tweet above is only one of many, as Maharashtra’s status as the state with the most coronavirus cases in India has given many Twitter users the opportunity to mock Thackeray’s leadership. On the other side of the argument, there are many who have commended the Maharashtra CM’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, with his regular briefings and measured approach to dealing with the situation coming in for praise.
This is an appreciation tweet, in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Maharashtra Govt has been doing a wonderful job under the leadership of CM Mr Uddhav Thakarey @OfficeofUT I Salute d administration, @MumbaiPolice @mybmc n all the doctors n healthcare professionals.
— सुशांत सिंह sushant singh سوشانت سنگھ (@sushant_says) April 4, 2020
But this is Twitter we are talking about, where you just can’t have good things. For every positive post, there will be others making snide remarks or peddling negativity in the guise of memes. A weird trend has emerged where Twitter users are more interested in comparing the figures of positive cases and deaths of different states, and using those figures as a yardstick by which to judge the efficacy of the CM and their political party.
Who is handling the state better in Corona epide mics ?
RT for Likes for
Yogi Adityanath Uddhav pic.twitter.com/wpYzGZlzQv
— Narendra Modi fan (@narendramodi177) April 6, 2020
Of course, this is a pan-India phenomenon. It’s not just Uddhav Thackeray who has had to face these sorts of inane comparisons. One popular example doing the rounds of Twitter pits the state of Gujarat’s “sanghi model” against the state of Kerala’s “commie model”, with the supposedly “anti-national” Kerala government coming out of the exchange looking the better of the two.
Kerala, which reported the first Covid-19 positive case in India on January 30, 2020, has the highest testing rate of 280 tests per million population and has the least case fatality of 0. 61%.
In contrast, Gujarat has higher case fatality proportion of 8.33%.
— Ravi Nair (@t_d_h_nair) April 7, 2020
However, such behaviour is immensely counter-productive. Political affiliation and allies are of no consequence when dealing with such a highly contagious disease like the coronavirus. It can spread between ideologically opposed groups just as easily as it can between like-minded people. There needs to be co-operation on all levels – between the public and the state governments, as well as the state governments and the central government. There may come a time when it is profitable to add a political spin to current events, but it is not the present.
Hopefully, the people mocking their state CMs for belonging to a different party than the one they support will not have to rely on the same governments for treatment. But until the threat of coronavirus has passed, petty politics must wait.