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S Jaishankar slams politics over COVID-19: It's a war, we must stop point scoring, come together

News Agencies | Updated on: 5 May 2021, 11:05 IST

Noting that India is facing surge in COVID-19 cases due to virulent variants of coronavirus, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that it is a war against the virus and societies are defined by their abilities to come together when faced by crisis of this magnitude.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Jaishankar admitted that there is politics around COVID situation and said there is need to pause point-scoring as the country has a serious national crisis. He said people come together as a society in a war.

The minister also said that elections cannot be stopped in a democratic country like India.

"Sadly you are right , I wish it wasn't so but what I can say is when it happened in other countries including UK, when the pandemic hits our society very hard, there are questions there are arguments, there is a lot of second guessing. You should have seen it coming and it is not unique to India. It happens in other societies as well. In our case, yes, I am very conscious of our own debate that's something I hear and (am) involved in everyday. People have spoken about elections. Obviously we are a democratic country. You don't stop elections in a place like India.

"Only time we stopped elections is an era some decades ago when I was pretty much younger, we don't want to be associated with that kind of memory. We are a democracy, we are very argumentative society, there will be this kind of point scoring. Somebody will say this crowd contributed to it, somebody else say well that crowd contributed, somebody will say that some individual or leader A, somebody will say leader B didn't wear a mask there," he said.

He was answering a query about politics around COVID situation and critical media coverage.

"I think we need to put a pause to it. We have a serious national crisis. The fact is societies are defined by their abilities to come together when you deal with the crisis of this magnitude. It is a war. What happens when there is a war, people come together as a society. So I would hope very much that we should do," he added.

Referring to the reports in media, he said people in governance would understand the problem because everybody has been through it .

He said while everybody has a right to view in the country, there is need to take public health people seriously who objectively diagnose and analyze the problem.

"When it comes to media there would be where editorial lines are very strong. When I see comments, very frankly, I see a lot of analysis by people who write fiction. People who are political commentators, I am not saying they shouldn't have a view, everybody has a right to view in this country but I would take very seriously public health people who would sit very objectively, diagnose and analyze why we are facing this problem," he said.

Jaishankar said people who were opposing lockdowns earlier are now making such demands.

"The fact is that we are facing this problem due to two viariants B1617 and B117. They had really hit us very very hard. They are far more virulent than virus we saw last year just look at our numbers. I remind you where we were in February. At the end of February, we were less than 10,000 (new) cases. Today we have 3,50,00 cases. Today you can say you should have seen it coming. Let's face it. You and I live in the same society, we saw societal fatigue with a lockdown. Today people are urging lockdown who are opposing lockdowns earlier.

"So I would say at the end of the day when I go abroad I try to make people understand these are my challenges. This is where international partnerships come into being. Most of my meeting with Secretary Blinken was devoted to what would be the solutions in India and solutions abroad and the heart of the matter will be vaccines and how will we get that kind of vaccination scales which means vaccination production," he said.

"And we can't do it right now by ourselves. We are part of global pharma chain. So when I go outside I'm not impervious to the debate at home. I go out, look out what are our national requirements today," he added.

He said India is part of global solution. "Today I am going through this crisis. Tomorrow someone else might be going through crisis. Just as I get support from world today, I will be offering support to the world tomorrow as I did yesterday as my situation was better," he added.


Also Read: COVID-19 is global crisis, what you describe as aid we describe as friendship, support: Jaishankar

First published: 5 May 2021, 11:05 IST