From the Viewsroom

The futile politics over vaccine

Poornima Joshi | Updated on January 19, 2021

The Opposition has scored a self-goal by politicising the vaccine rollout

In their anxiety to dominate the quicksand of political narratives in the post-truth age of social media, the Opposition has been scoring a series of self-goals. The success of the BJP in creating and dominating narratives has led others to indulge in a mindless imitation game. Hindutva, for instance, is the BJP’s original pitch. The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are not getting any slice of that pie even if Rahul Gandhi wields a janau or Arvind Kejriwal breaks into a rather tuneless rendition of the Hanuman Chalisa. The success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in creating an iconoclastic image means everyone else wants to follow suit. Sadly for the Opposition, the strategy mostly helps the BJP.

A typical example of this is the ongoing campaign against the dangers lurking in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Till the discourse was limited to domain experts questioning the wisdom of rolling out Covaxin before the clinical trials or the problems about data sharing and publication for Covishield, it was a genuine issue for serious public debate.

But the moment former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav invaded it with his “I won’t take BJP vaccine” spiel, it was game, set and match for the BJP. The Congress has, as has been its wont for some years, trundled on blindly. Over the last weekend, its spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala droned on about the pricing, lack of information etc. Should all these questions not wait till at least the Parliament session begins towards the end of this month? Do politicians not owe it to the country to have an informed discussion on a subject that has implications for every Indian?

If the government has indeed taken missteps, it ought to be held accountable but is the AICC headquarters or a TV channel the right forum to decide on that? By theorising in advance of facts, the issue has been robbed of its seriousness. In their haste to outdo the BJP and Modi, the Opposition has scored an easy self-goal.

Published on January 19, 2021

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