India is fighting a crucial battle against the virus and from what we can see right now, we’re at a fairly losing stance. The hopes and expectations that the citizens had from the supreme leader and the ruling party about the handling of the pandemic have been crushed so badly that there does not seem a way out, not easily. Being mounted under the deaths of close to 200,000 people, the citizens deserve action, accountability and responsibility from the ruling government. However, staying true to its typical behaviour, the ruling government has not only passed the onus to the states but also has stepped down to being non-transparent to the public. Before commenting on the situation and series of events, let’s first talk about the incident that happened.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister held a COVID review meeting, which, as the name suggests was to talk to the Chief Ministers of high burden states about the prevailing state of COVID-19 in the country and to decide an action plan to solve the oxygen shortage problems being encountered by the states. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal decided to broadcast his speech on live television, which questioned the centre about the shortage of oxygen in the national capital and appealed to the Prime Minister to facilitate the airlift of oxygen from the West Bengal and Odisha to resolve the shortage in Delhi. The Delhi CMO further said, “Will people of Delhi do not get oxygen if there is no oxygen-producing plant here? Please suggest whom I should speak to in the central government when an oxygen tanker destined for Delhi is stopped in another state?” the Prime Minister, however, did not take the broadcast well and displayed explicit vitriol against the CM’s action stating that the event of a CM broadcasting an “in-house” meeting is strictly against protocols and hasn’t happened ever before, in the middle of the meeting. Calling it both inappropriate and unethical, the Prime Minister slammed the CM for breach of rules.
The Delhi CMO immediately apologised for the inconvenience caused because of the live streaming of the broadcast and expressed regret over it. He further explained how there was no instruction by the centre that the interaction could not be shared live, with the public. “Today, the chief minister address was shared live because there has never been any instruction, written or verbal, from the central government that the said interaction could not be shared live,” said Delhi CMO in a statement on Friday.
Well, wow. As could be expected, this created hailstorm of arguments and allegations across the internet, with the centre sledging the Delhi CM for playing politics and the Delhi CM expressing concern over the government not catering to the people’s needs and not being transparent with the public. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal used the Covid-review conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a platform to play politics, government sources informed on Friday, adding that his speech was not meant for solutions but to evade responsibility. They further said that Kejriwal raised the point of airlifting oxygen but was unaware that it was already being done. “He spoke about Oxygen express by Railways but Railway sources say that he has not communicated anything about it to Railways”. Government sources added, “Kejriwal has descended to a new low. For the first time, the private conversations of the Prime Minister’s meeting with Chief Ministers were televised. His entire speech was not meant for any solution but for playing politics and evade responsibility.” Unsurprisingly, both left and right-wing have been throwing allegations at each other and as always, there’s nothing but the smell of politics wreaking from it. However, let us discuss this on a rational level.
Before we talk about the stance, let’s start at the very basic level. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss an issue of public welfare, to be discussed by the representatives elected by the public and would revolve around how to help the public, so is sharing the broadcast really a breach of the protocol? Make it make sense. The meeting’s agenda revolved completely around a matter of public welfare and standing at where we are right now, we need to know the government’s action plan about necessities, we need the government to be transparent, at least now. So, even if it was an “in-house” meeting, the fact that it was shared with the people does not make it as much a problem as the supreme leader made it to be, especially since there have been multiple occasions of similar interactions where matters of public importance which had no confidential information were shared live with the people. Also note that as mentioned, there was no prior verbal or written rule or protocol about the meeting to not be shared with the people, which makes it completely ineligible to be a protocol, let alone a breach. Also, note that the centre has repeatedly issued statements criticising the Delhi CM’s move by calling this a political gimmick and an attempt to disparage the government image by sharing the live streaming. But if all that the CMO shared to the Prime Minister were facts about the state’s condition in terms of oxygen and vaccine, how is it an attempt to take a dig at the government’s image? The government needs to know these shortfalls and so does the public, because ultimately, we are the receivers of these impediments. Now, even though the fact that no authorities were informed about the live broadcast of the segment was a little over the line, was it so inappropriate that the Prime Minister had to halt the meeting in the middle and discuss the matter? Was it so immoral that the Prime Minister had to drop the entire agenda at the time of global emergency?
Well, looks like the government is a little too dramatic. Oh, and if you were thinking the Prime Minister got so ambushed because he is so stringent about following protocols, well, take a look at all the times that the Supreme leader has been on the other side of the story-
In 2017 at the republic day celebrations, the Prime Minister was involved in a breach of security protocol as he walked on Rajpath, greeted and waved towards the visitors seated on both sides of the road. The news made headlines and the Supreme Leader issued explanations for the breach. Oh, did you think it would discourage him from breaking the so beloved protocols?
Back in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke protocol by receiving French President Emmanuel Macron at the airport when he arrived for a four-day visit to India to co-chair the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance. The Prime Minister welcomed the president with an over-enthusiastic hug as soon as he alighted. Well, looks like the “hugplomacy” didn’t work much in our favour after all.
And as if the headlines of breaking protocol had no impact on the leader, he broke the protocol again in the same year by receiving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the airport. Talk about not repeating mistakes!
Back in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received former US President Barack Obama on January 25, 2015. Modi became the second Indian Prime Minister after Manmohan Singh to extend this special gesture to Obama.
In another breach of the security protocol, the Supreme Leader back in 2018 paid a sudden visit to the former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences on Sunday night, without security, to enquire about his health conditions. Breaching the protocol, PM went straight to AIIMS without any prior information. As per the sources, the hospital’s administration too found out about it only after PM already reached there. While we acknowledge the emotion, we can’t wrap our heads around the PM’s sudden rage against non-compliance of the protocol that wasn’t even prior announced and or made.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his security protocol on August 17, 2017, by stopping his convoy mid-way to meet a four-year-old girl in Surat during his Gujarat tour. Nancy Gondaliya rushed towards the Prime Minister’s car when thousands of people were waiting on both sides of the road to catch his glimpse on his way to Kiran Hospital from Circuit House. Modi exchanged a few words with the little girl, who was then taken back to her father. I guess the degree of an issue with the breach also changes from person to person.
And as if the breach of security at one republic day celebration wasn’t enough, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke the general security protocol as he walked around greeting the crowd, gathered to witness the celebrations of India’s 69th Republic Day at Rajpath on January 26, 2019.
Another instance was when Modi breached protocol to revive a troubled relationship. He made an intimate “surprise” trip to Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif’s ancestral residence in 2015. Incidentally, that day was Sharif’s birthday and his granddaughter’s wedding. Well, even though Pakistan has another Prime Minister at the point, at least Pakistan now stands with India in this tough time of the virus, as witnessed by the trending Twitter hashtag.
Is it something about security or is it something about children that makes the Prime Minister so adamant about not sticking to the protocols? Modi broke protocol to meet children at Red Fort on August 15, 2018. Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke from the security cordon to enter an enclosure where children welcomed him with loud cheers.
Well, the last one for us to note but definitely not the last breach was when PM Narendra Modi welcomed Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces on February 10, 2018.
Well, these impromptu gestures of the Prime Minister have made us question the credibility of the protocols, especially when the rage about not following them is coming from the man himself. PM Modi has many a time defended himself for breaking the protocol saying, he is a common man and is unaware of protocols. So, what is the protocol? It is not written in stone and is largely a bureaucratic code of conduct designed for politicians, the leader has explained. In short, Protocols are a system of rules that explain the correct conduct/procedures in a formal situation. Famously or infamously, Modi doesn’t believe in conventions. Well, what makes him suddenly so interested in them that the leader decided to drop the entire agenda of a public welfare meeting at the time of the county’s crisis? Something infamously smells like politics to me.
We hoped that at least at the time of emergency, these politicians and leaders would think beyond politics and would try and work together in an attempt to save the country from the crisis they’ve led to with their incompetence, ill-planning and lethargy but every time we expect, we fall harder to the floor. It is saddening how the ministers are still concerned with earning political brownie points and playing the blame game when the country is losing lives exponentially each day. Some would say the move by Delhi CM was uncalled for while some would argue that a matter of public welfare shared with the public should not have been such a problem. Well, both the stances are correct on their basis but the problem still stays intact- we will not be able to get through this crisis if all that the political parties choose even at the time of emergency is politics.