Last month, Congress leaders were clamoring for a nationwide lockdown to fight Covid-19. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that on March 24; it began on March 25. He also extended it for another 19 days Tuesday.
Now, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says that the lockdown is not enough; it is just “a pause button” to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The lockdown doesn’t defeat the virus. “The only way” out, he said, is increased testing.
But, Mr. Gandhi, till a few weeks ago, your party was selling the nationwide lockdown as the cure for Covid-19. Your party leader and former home minister P. Chidambaram had been tweeting frequently about the need to lock down the nation. On March 19, he tweeted: “After WHO Director General’s statement yesterday, there should be no hesitation in ordering an immediate lockdown of all our towns and cities for 2-4 weeks.”
On the same day, Chidambaram tweeted: “Even after we have witnessed what is happening in Italy, Iran and Spain, why is the government refusing to take the logical step of a lockdown?” And, “Some states that are ahead of the central government should go ahead and lockdown their towns and cities.” And again: “Since ICMR’s random sample testing has revealed that there is no community transmission (Stage 3) so far, this is the moment to announce a temporary lockdown and contain the disease at Stage 2. @narendramodi @PMOIndia @uddhavthackeray @CMOTamilNadu @EPSTamilNadu.”
The fact that the grand old party insisted on following World Health Organization Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ advice speaks volumes about the GOP’s intellectual bankruptcy. Tedros had been exposed almost two months before Chidambaram’s tweets. As we mentioned earlier, the WHO had claimed on January 14 that there was no human-to-human transfer. This Tedros did to please the Chinese; his subservience to Beijing has cost the world a great deal, both in human and economic costs.
Yet, the Congress wanted the country to take the WHO chief seriously. Unfortunately, intense pressure from the lockdown lobby—comprising the Left-liberal establishment, alarmists, the Congress, top experts, et al—coaxed the Modi government into announcing the decision that has badly wounded the economy and killed millions of jobs.
Left-liberals all over the world want lockdown, for it helps them in every possible manner. First, it breaks the back of the economy, thus weakening the governments under Right-leaning leaders all over the world, from India to the UK, the US, and Brazil. In the wake of every crisis, they say that the ‘terminal crisis of capitalism’ is here and a socialist utopia is imminent.
Second, lockdown badly hurts the most vulnerable sections in any country; this situation is a godsend for Leftists; they thrive in turmoil. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 happened because the Tsarist regime, never a byword for competence, was hopelessly debilitated by the Great War. Similarly, the communists succeeded in China because of a fortuitous combination of circumstances: brutal attacks by Japan, a civil war, and the Second World War. Politically battered and ideologically shattered, Leftists see an opportunity in the corona scare to bounce back to relevance.
This is the reason that Leftists love poverty. In her novel, Fountainhead, Ayn Rand has beautifully delineated the personality of socialist art critic Elsworth Toohey, a key character in the novel:
“You’re a maggot, Elsie,” she [his aunt] told him once. “You feed on sores.” “Then I will never starve,” he answered.
Nor will the Left. It feeds on sores, wounds, lacerations—the more the merrier. Wherever there are sores and wounds, the Left ensures that they are not healed; they continue to bleed, so that it can, like maggots, feed on them.
Third, lockdown increases the size and scope of government, as it is happening now. Today, the authorities are telling businesses and citizens which factory to open and how, which goods to carry where and how, which establishments would open when and how, and so on. Leviathan is roaring and rampaging; the individual has been put under house arrest with a zillion restrictions imposed on him. The post-corona scenario too is unlikely to substantially weaken the big state and fully restore individual liberty. This is what the Left wants: an all-powerful state controlling the economy, society, culture, arts, literature, cinema, etc., and a bonsai individual whose intellectual, philosophical, and artistic efflorescence is systematically clipped. A citizen of 1984.
Politically, the Left is practically dead. But it was neither cremated nor buried; it transmuted into a virus, not unlike corona, and entered the parties like Democratic in the US, Labor in the UK, and the Congress in India. This is the reason that the Congress keeps peddling Leftist doctrines and policies—e.g., the national rural employment guaranteed scheme, the food security law, the advocacy of lockdown.
Sadly, the Modi government didn’t dismiss the demand made by the Congress. The entire country is suffering because of that..