Citizens of Kasganj, Uttar Pradesh are seething at the negligence of local politicians during the severe Covid-crisis in the state, reported the Indian Express on May 10, 2021. Political posters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) and other parties are pasted all across the state’s entrances.
However, for residents of the 2008-established Kasganj district, these posters and photographs only mock the working-class struggling to survive the virus. This smallest district of Uttar Pradesh reported 271 new Covid-cases on April 29 along with an active caseload of 706 and 16 deaths.
On May 8, the data read 149 new cases, an active caseload of 723 and recorded 33 deaths, indicating the sharp rise of cases between the first and second wave of the virus. On October 25, 2020 the district recorded a single-day peak of 77 and an active load of 198. Similarly, until January 1, 2021 Kasganj had reported only six deaths.
However, instead of focusing on these numbers, political representatives continue to focus on local panchayat elections, said residents. The report also stated a complete lack of on-ground aid, refusal to step outside homes out of fear and denial of any need to help.
Specifically, regarding Etah BJP MP Rajveer Singh, the report noted that the representative lived in Delhi or Aligarh and only visited his constituency during election season. While his Facebook page shows a letter written to Kasganj District Magistrate requesting Rs. 10 lakh for construction of an oxygen plant, the local office lies barren without a guard at the place.
Similarly, Amapur MLA Devendra Singh Rajput leaves the local BJP office empty until 4 PM. Regarding Covid-19, Singh claimed that only those villagers with comorbidities are affected. Otherwise, it is just a cough and fever that people will recover from. “But yes, without Modiji or Yogiji, this would have been much worse,” he told Indian Express.
Claiming that the BJP leadership asked personnel to help in whatever way they can, Singh said that he did not receive a single distress call in the past two months. He said that people are fighting Covid-19 themselves, not even asking for oxygen or a hospital bed.
There are 96-available Covid beds at the district hospital Deputy CMO Kasganj Dr Avinash Kumar told the media. However, the district hospital only admits asymptomatic and symptomatic cases that do not require ventilators or ICU support. Technically, this means that serious cases requiring such help must be referred to L2 and L3 facilities but such hospitals are “not functioning” in Kasganj. Kumar reasons this is because the L2 hospital does not have an anaesthetist or a specialist. Therefore, serious cases are referred to Aligarh that is at least 60 kilometres away.
Former two-term MLA and two-term SP MP Kunwar Devendra Singh Yadav on the other hand has at least 50 people at the ‘Urmila Palace’ that doubles as the SP office. However, none of these party-members work as Covid-volunteers or even wears masks. The SP claims its supported candidates won 14 of the 23 seats.
Unlike BJP representatives, Yadav acknowledged and criticised the lack of planning and execution in the second wave of coronavirus. Then when asked about relief work officials said Yadav has enquired about contributions towards an oxygen plant. He also voiced future plans to get cylinders in Kasganj and “are looking at how to do that.” As a present tense initiative, members said they refrained from carrying out victory marches on orders from Akhilesh Yadav. Devendra Yadav’s election affidavit saw him declare a net worth of Rs 204 crore.
UP Congress Committee District member Tarun Sharma condemned “all these leaders” for abandoning the ground. He pointed out that the MP never visited despite the infection spreading to villages. But when asked about his own initiative said, he “stays in touch” with district officials such as the DM and the CMO.
As for BJP District President Raj Kumar, he too has left Kasganj like Rajveer and is unsure about when he will return. Kumar went a step ahead of other representatives, claiming that the situation is “now out of control and nobody can help. Even people we know, even politicians are dying. Nothing can be done.”
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh Primary Teachers Association is working on its second list of martyred members who died during election duty. Last time, the group reported 706 deaths across the state due to negligence of the State Election Commission (SEC) and similar authorities. The pandemic also affected the election as candidates contesting in the panchayat elections also succumbed to Covid-19, hours before being declared winners.
In an exclusive report, SabrangIndia spoke to residents of the state voicing considerable grief at the uncertain situation all around them. Families have been unable to visit kin for last rites while priests performing the rites balk at the number of deaths witnessed every day.
Nonetheless, the administration continues work as usual talking about by-elections in face of recent death of candidates. According to Covid19India, a community sourced website, Uttar Pradesh reported 2,33,981 active Covid cases and 15,464 deaths on May 9, 2021.
Bodies, believed to be of Covid patients, found floating in Yamuna
Pvt Hospital allegedly charges Rs. 1 lakh per day for Covid treatment: Madras HC seeks response from gov’t
Covid-19: Scientists say a third wave is inevitable; is India prepared?
UP Panchayat elections: Candidates die before results are declared!