The pandemic has not been kind to Delhi. The state government, no stranger to pugilist moves in politics, is locked in a grim battle. Even since the lockdown was eased, horror stories have been escaping out of city hospitals like ghouls out to torment the populace. The city’s Covid graph is soaring; overloaded hospitals are turning away patients, letting them die without proper medical care. But what’s a crisis if not an opportunity for some extra lashings of mayhem?
We were not disappointed: two contentious decisions came along from chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to set off a right royal row. One was on barring admission to patients from outside Delhi to state-run hospitals. The order was sent back to the pavilion by the lieutenant-governor, Anil Baijal, before you could pronounce N95. The other was a revised testing strategy—that asymptomatic people will be restricted from testing. Again, the L-G scalped it, directing the state to adhere to guidelines set by ICMR. The soundness of the decisions—or the lack of it—in terms of ethics or effective epidemic policy is one thing. But the episode framed a central conflict at the heart of India’s Covid-19 battle—central being an accidental word there. The key question is: who owns an epidemic?