Recently, the two states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have been in news related to politics as well as Corona infections. While both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, do not have much difference in population, there is some difference in the demography and culture of people. The two states share their border and are almost equally populated at around 70 million, as per the 2011 census.
March 2020, was the cursed month, when the Government of India was caught sleeping by the deadly Corona virus pandemic, which had already killed thousands of people in US, Europe and China. Indian authorities did not place a ban on the flights coming in from foriegn countries, except China. The news of WHO declaring Corona as a pandemic, and uncountable deaths of infected rung bells in the ears of Indian leaders, and they started putting a ban on International flights. But by then, thousands of people have moved inside India, without airport screening, and quarantine advisory. Very soon, Corona positive cases spiked up and the only option left was to declare an immediate lockdown which could stop community spread of this virus. The first few hotspots which emerged in India, were from Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan. These states looked worried about but somehow managed to control the outbreak with heavy government machinery in place.
Rajasthan has now become the top state pursuing highest number of Covid19 tests. It is worth noting that Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, was the first to announce complete lockdown, to stop the migration of people. This was soon followed by Central Government declaring a lockdown across the country.
Rajasthan’s Bhilwara which was identified as state’s first hotspot, was sealed with total curfew, and strict orders were passed to not allow any person on roads. The authorities used force as well as love, wherever applicable, to restrict people in their homes, under any circumstances. All the essential commodities were delivered to the residents at home, by the administration. Religious places were sealed and any kind of gathering was dissuaded by warning the public of harsh consequences. Intensive tests were done by the medical teams, with total support and protection of police force. The strategy was to test, identify, isolate and treat the patients. Any possible links of Corona positive cases were found and tested, with immediate quarantine of the person/families. This possibly broke the chain of virus infections, and finally a stage came when the number of positive cases came at a complete halt. This was on 31st March. when total positive cases were at 27, and since then just 1 new case has been added to the tally.
The district was locked down way before the Central Government announced its lockdown on 24th night. Bhilwara was forced to lockdown on 21st itself. Educational Hostels and Guest-houses were taken in control by the administration, to be turned into quarantine centres for the possible cases. Bangar Hospital, which emerged as the epicentre of Corona infections, was sealed and its staff was immediately quarantined and treated. Even their links and families deep inside the villages were traced and quarantined. A 24-hours war room was positioned at the District Collector’s Office and three teams were deployed in 8-hour shifts to keep an eye on each and every detail related to lockdown, tracing and testing.
The door-to-door screening was done for 2.2 million people out of total population of 2.4 million of Bhilwara, which made way for the testing all the suspected cases. Eventually, more than 6000 people were quarantined, then repeatedly tested, until they completed the duration and stayed negative. The second phase of screening was done during the end of March, and another phase was introduced at the starting of April, just in case of any laborers returned home from other areas. This rigorous model has been widely appreciated from people across the country and even the Prime Minister. The Union Health Ministry has asked other states to follow the Bhilwara Model, to their hotspots.
Apart from Bhilwara, Jaipur and Jodhpur have also emerged as major hotspots where similar strategy is being applied to control emerging cases. The Ramganj area of Jaipur is having highest infected found in a period of 2 weeks, just because of a Corona positive who traveled from a Gulf country and was not screened at the airport. When a large number of cases came in, the entire Ramganj, and other areas in the radius of one km were sealed with strict curfew imposed. Gradually, the cases from Ramganj also came down to a single digit.
Madhya Pradesh, which is a close neighbour of Rajasthan, was facing a poilitical turmoil, while rest of the country was busy fighting the Corona pandemic. The Kamalnath Government had been broken down by Scindia, after he grabbed and sent away his 20-odd legislators to Karnataka, to topple the government. Kamalnath resigned and Shivraj Singh Chauhan took oath of Chief Minister on 23rd March, just a day before complete lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister. Chauhan could not bring along any Minister with him, as there was not much time left for any other activity during lockdown. This was the time when Jabalpur had already emerged as a hotspot of the state, and cases had started showing up in Indore and Bhopal as well. Without any cabinet, the administration was given the task of lockdown as well as law & order control, with overnight transfers and posts provided to Chauhan confidantes, since day one.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh, is mostly seen attending administrative meetings and taking all decisions pertaining to the government, without any sub-ordinate alongside to support. Recently, the state has emerged in top list with highest number of positive cases coming in everyday. 361 new cases were confirmed on Thursday 16th April, with highest single day surge for any state so far. The state was not having much cases, except for Jabalpur to begin with. But just after the migrant laborers started traveling from all parts of the country to their native places, Indore and Bhopal witnessed a spike in positive cases. Indore was also in news for a congested ghetto where people hit the medical testing team, who later apologised and came out for testing. The same area was later declared as a hotspot, as well as other colonies where some cases were found.
Capital city of Bhopal, was the worst case that could have happened to a newly formed government. While MP State Health Secretary, whose son had a travel history, was found Corona positive, she kept meeting with other members of her team and some politicians as well. As a result dozens of people were confirmed positive and hundreds quarantined, amidst the people crying for help. The Health Department had to first take care of its own team, and then keep a check on the public as well. Things could not stay on track since then, and today the government is staring at a bad news in making. Some people blame the BJP for playing politics at a time of national crisis in the country.
The question arises if BJP could have stayed away from threatening of the incumbent government, could it be a different situation in Madhya Pradesh today?