Indian States Hurt by Modi Government’s Failures, Badal Says

A relative attends to a Covid-19 patient receiving free oxygen, supplied by Khalsa Help International, at the Shri Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara in Ghaziabad. (Photographer: Sumit Dayal/Bloomberg)

Indian States Hurt by Modi Government’s Failures, Badal Says

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s federal government neither warned Indian states of an impending second wave of the coronavirus nor helped them tackle the pandemic’s fallout, a provincial minister said.

“This has been the single biggest failure of the union government in last 73 years,” Manpreet Singh Badal, finance minister for the northern Indian state of Punjab, ruled by the opposition Congress party, said in an interview to Bloomberg TV Asia on Friday. “As far as Punjab is concerned, it’s a generational loss.”

Indian States Hurt by Modi Government’s Failures, Badal Says

Badal likened the impact on his state to the partition of India in 1947, which led to deaths and destabilization for millions of people. Several states have imposed lockdowns to control the outbreak, which has made India the epicenter of the world’s Covid-19 pandemic.

Total deaths have crossed 260,000, and the infection tally has topped 24 million.

“They declared victory too early,” Badal said, referring to Modi’s premature claim about defeating Covid-19. “That has cost us very dearly.”

In addition, the federal government has been holding up aid from the global community and overseas Indians, he said.

Here are other key comments from the interview:

  • Badal sees India’s middle-class shrinking and millions being pushed into poverty as a result of job and income losses caused by activity curbs due to the pandemic
  • He says sanctity of data in India has been undermined, and numbers are being suppressed.
  • “My guess is as good as yours, but I would say India would be under-reporting by three quarters of what is being reported,” he said. “People are not just reporting to government facilities”
  • Punjab is short of equipment, vaccines and drugs, and has converted animal labs and forensic labs into testing facilitates for Covid patients
  • States are stretchered to their limits and the federal government is “not releasing” funds to states to combat this pandemic, he said
  • Says time has come to take back three agricultural laws because the farmers’ protest at Delhi’s borders could become another super-spreader event

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