Asia Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Tue 07 April 2020:

Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder Kamal Haasan on Monday flayed the BJP-led government at the Centre for its handling of the situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic, saying the “same mistake of demonetisation is being repeated, albeit at a much bigger scale.”

In an open letter to the prime minister, the actor-politician said Narendra Modi’s “vision failed” vis-a-vis the ongoing “ill-planned” lockdown and warned that the Centre should not be a “balcony government”, alluding to the middle-classes and the relatively well-off.

“While demonetisation led to loss of savings and livelihood of the poorest, this ill-planned lockdown is leading us to a fatal combination of loss of both life and livelihood,” Haasan said in the strongly-worded letter.

Modi had last month announced a 21-day lockdown till April 14, as part of the government’s fight against the spread of COVID19, while insisting on social distancing.

Noting that the first confirmed coronavirus case was reported on December 8, Haasan said the entire world knew it was going to wreak havoc of an unprecedented kind.

India’s first case was reported on January 30, he said.

He uploaded the letter on his Twitter page.


“We had seen what happened to Italy. Yet we did not learn our lessons early enough. When we eventually woke out of our slumber, you ordered an entire nation of 1.4 billion people to shut down within four hours. A mere four hour notice period for people when you had a four month notice period,” he said.

Visionary leaders are the ones who work on solutions long before problems become big, he added.

Recalling his earlier open letter to the Prime Minister on March 23, Haasan said he had then pleaded for the welfare of labourers and workers.

However, the next day, the announcement “of a strict and immediate lockdown, almost demonetisation style,” was made.

“I was taken aback but I chose to trust you, my elected leader,the one we would like to believe knows best. I had chosen to trust you even when you announced demonetisation but time proved I was wrong. Time proved you too were wrong sir,” he said.

He said the poor had nobody to look up to except Modi.

“On one hand you are asking the more privileged people to put up a spectacle of lights while on the other hand the poor man’s plight is itself becoming a shameful spectacle,” he said.

While some people lit oil lamps in their balconies, the poor were struggling to gather enough oil to bake their next roti, Haasan said.

Modi’s last two addresses had him trying to calm the people which was necessary in these trying times but there was something more urgent as well as important than that, he noted.

While COVID-19 will continue to find more victims, we are creating a fertile playground for Hunger(H), Exhaustion(E) and Deprivation(D) of the poor, Haasan said.

“HED’20 is a malady that is smaller in profile but far deadlier compared to COVID-19. Its impact will be felt long after COVID-19 has vanished,” he said.

Taking a dig at Modi for “unleashing a spirited election-style campaign idea,” Haasan said “it seems you are comfortable outsourcing responsible behaviour to the common people and transparency to the state governments,” he said.

“But I am a follower of Periyar and Gandhi and I know they were intellectuals first. It’s the intellect that guides one into choosing a path of righteousness, equality and prosperity for all,” he said.

Modi was the leader of 1.4 bn Indians and even his naysayers clapped and cheered for the health workers, Haasan said, in an apparent reference to the earlier Janata Curfew where the Prime Minister had asked people to acknowledge the health workers’ contribution.

“We will comply to your wishes and orders but our compliance must not be confused as our subjugation,” he added.

He also slammed “your system” for failing to stop congregations of “ignorant and foolish people” in different parts of the country, saying they have become the biggest hubs for the spread of the epidemic in India.

However, he did not name anybody.

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