Five Things Arvind Kejriwal Can Do to Salvage the Viral Outbreak 

Arvind Kejriwal “can’t buy a pen”, but here’s what the Delhi CM can do to salvage the chikungunya outbreak.

5 min read

<i>Ek machhar, government ko denial mein daal deta hai!</i> (Photo: Altered by <b>The Quint</b>)

Somebody in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) needs to confiscate Arvind Kejriwal’s Twitter account NOW.

Kejriwal’s government is facing a lot of criticism for not acting adequately on the rising instances of death due to chikungunya in Delhi.

Here is a sample of what the Delhi Chief Minister tweeted, trying to defend how his hands are tied when it comes to implementing real changes in the state.

Firstly, y u got 2 type lyk dat?

Secondly, if a Chief Minister,who rode back to power after a disastrous 49-day term with more than 53 percent of the vote share, claims to be powerless, then why’s he still Chief Minister?

  • As the outbreak of Chikungunya grips Delhi, the state’s Chief Minister and government are AWOL.
  • Arvind Kejriwal as well as top leaders of AAP are inactive.
  • Here’s what the Delhi government can do to salvage the situation.
  • Stop the politics and the blame game and start working with the civic agencies.
  • Reassure the public and doctors and provide support; #AskCM instead of #AskLG.
  • Ditch the ‘Victim Card’ and put aside the legal battle with the Lieutenant Governor.
  • Ad-friendly Kejriwal should put out ads on Chikungunya awareness.
  • Stop targeting the media when it is noticing the Delhi government’s absence.

Somebody also needs to ask Sambit Patra how he managed to keep a straight face while reciting the same line of attack on the AAP Chief: “Dilli bukhaar, Kejriwal kahe mujhe mat pukaar, Dilli bukhaar, Kejriwal kahe mujhe mat pukaar, Dilli bimaar, Kejriwal sarkar faraar.”

But there’s no hilarity in the number of people who are being treated for chikungunya, dengue and malaria. In the last 24 hours, ten people have died due to complications arising out of dengue or chikungunya.

The Delhi Municipal Corporation’s claims of 1,057 chikungunya cases are contradicted by independent numbers from government hospitals. According to media reports, Delhi’s AIIMS alone has reported 1,360 cases, the Apollo hospital, 775 and the Safdarjung hospital, 531.

This is not the first time the city is reeling from a viral outbreak. But it is perhaps for the first time that it’s been completely left to its own devices.

A 75-year-old man is the latest casualty to Chikungunya (Photo: Reuters)
A 75-year-old man is the latest casualty to Chikungunya (Photo: Reuters)

Delhi’s Abandonment Issues

The Delhi Chief Minister has been trolling journalists and Delhiites in general from Bengaluru, where he’s undergoing throat surgery. His deputy Manish Sisodia, Labour Minister Gopal Rai, Environment Minister Imran Hussain, even the Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Health Secretary Chandrakar Bharti, are all out of town for reasons ranging from an education conference in Finland to earned leave.

As for the Delhi Health Minister, Satyendra Jain has been in the city for only four days in the last fortnight. Jain was in the Vatican for Mother Teresa’s canonisation from 3 to 7 September. On the 9th, he left for a five-day campaign tour of Goa where the AAP is contesting the assembly election to be held next year.

But lack of effective preventive measures and total breakdown of communication and co-ordination with the civic agencies has led to a medical emergency in government-aided and private hospitals across Delhi.

“This is not the time to fight. This is the time to work and give results”, former Delhi Health Minister Dr Ashok Kumar Walia tells The Quint.

The Solution

So what can the Delhi government do to salvage the situation?

1. Separate Politics from Better Sense

To begin with, the AAP-led government can keep its political opposition to the BJP aside and establish a working relationship with the civic agencies. In its defence, the Delhi government says that the MCD has failed to spend the money allocated for undertaking preventive measures to deal with vector-borne diseases and that the money shown spent has also been embezzled. Even according to a report by Centre for Civil Society, the NDMC failed to spend a single penny out of the Rs 46.28 crore allocated to it under the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Mission.

Senior functionaries of the Delhi’s three civic agencies – MCD, NDMC and the Delhi Cantonment Board – have squarely put the blame on the public, accusing them of not co-operating with the ground staff.

But as Dr Walia points out, it is the job of the government to call for a meeting with the three civic bodies, get the problem areas where there is excessive growth of larvae identified and then draw out a concrete action plan. With another month to go before mosquito season ends, there should be rigorous house-to-house fogging and spraying of anti-larvae sprays.

Not too late to start house to house fogging. (Photo: iStock)
Not too late to start house to house fogging. (Photo: iStock)

2. #AskCM

Secondly, there is a need to reassure the people of Delhi instead of telling the people of Delhi to ‘#AskLG’.

“The Chief Minister needs to create a sense of confidence in the doctors and the medical staff. He needs to promise them that he will fulfill their medical requirement,” says Dr AK Walia.

Since early September, public and private hospitals are flooded with fever stricken patients turning waiting areas, lounges and non-emergency wards into ‘fever wards’. The number of patients is so high that neither can everyone be admitted nor can they get the medical aid they need.

3. Ditch the ‘Victim card’

Thirdly, the Delhi Chief Minister and his government needs to press pause on playing its “victim act”. Arvind Kejriwal needs to stop portraying every controversy in the frame of his legal battle against Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. On 5 August, the Delhi High Court clarified that the Lieutenant Governor is, as the administrative head, the indisputable boss of Delhi. And while an appeal against the High Court order is pending in the Supreme Court, this would be a good time ditch the ‘political victim’ card.

Five Things Arvind Kejriwal Can Do to Salvage the Viral Outbreak 

4. Spend on ads. No, really!

Advertising should come easy to the media-savvy AAP, but of the Rs 15 crore spent on print ads in three months, not a single one was aimed at educating people on how to safeguard themselves from a viral outbreak.

People need to be repeatedly told not to allow standing water, to keep their rooftops clean, water tanks closed, and tap nozzles sealed with a piece of cloth.

But now we see no print or radio advertisements, nobody is giving any directions, no door-to-door checks are being conducted. Teams from the MCD and NDMC used to go check flower pots, utensils, etc. But unfortunately, “none of this seems to have happened this year”, says Dr AK Walia.

5. Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Finally, the Delhi Chief Minister and his ministers need to stop targeting the media each time an inconvenient observation is made on social media. A tweet by Rahul Kanwal, the Managing Editor of India Today and Aaj Tak, on the CM passing the buck, invited an unwarranted personal attack.

Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta too was accused of being a Congress ‘dalal’ after he pointed out the first malaria death in the Capital in five years while Delhi ministers were campaigning in other states.

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