Well, that is what happened to the former chief minister of Uttarakhand!
In a stunning disclosure, it was revealed that the former Chief Minister of Uttarkhand Trivendra Singh Rawat was fired overnight in March for insisting that COVID-19 restrictions should be imposed at the Kumbh Mela and the festival should be performed symbolically.
The RSS-BJP removed Trivendra Singh Rawat for insisting on a symbolic festival for the Kumbh Mela
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Uttarakhand cabinet ministers had wanted Uttarakhand to host a ‘bhavya’ (grand) Mahakumbh but Trivendra Singh Rawat insisted on a ‘pratikatmak’ (symbolic) festival.
The BJP leaders insisted that the Kumbh Mela was politically and economically important and that deferring the festival would result in the loss of hundreds of crores and also upset the religious sentiments of many in the country. When the former chief minister imposed COVID restrictions to limit the magnitude of the Mahakumbh, he was ousted from his position as chief minister.
According to the BJP leaders who spoke to Caravan, initially, the state government had insisted on social distancing and compulsory masking and the akharas had been asked to provide written consent that they had no objection with the government’s initiative of hosting the Kumbh in a limited capacity, in compliance with COVID norms.
This annoyed many, like ‘Mahamantri ji Hari Giri of the Juna Akhara’, who was determined that “our traditions and culture should be duly followed and there should be a proper Kumbh”, the media house reported.
Earlier in December 2020, the ABAP declared that the akharas will organize the Kumbh on their own if the Uttarakhand government does not cooperate.
“No work has been started yet. We are not happy with the attitude of the administration. But Maha Kumbh Mela, 2021, will be as grand and divine as it was in 2010, regardless of whether the Uttarakhand government cooperates,” Narendra had said in December 2020.
Since the CM Trivendra Singh Rawat opposed conducting a grand Kumbh, he was removed by the time the festival started, sources told The Caravan.
Over 2 million pilgrims came to Haridwar to take the holy dip in the Ganga between 14 January to 27 April. Over 35 lakh people had gathered in Haridwar on 12 April and 13.51 lakh on 14 April.
Here is how he was ousted from the position of power:
On 6 March 2021, the BJP national vice-president Raman Singh and the BJP general secretary in charge of Uttarakhand, Dushyant Singh Gautam, reached Dehradun unexpectedly, called on him when the state assembly’s budget session was underway, and, feeling it was an emergency, he took a chopper to meet them.
During this meeting, it became quite clear that there had been a ‘change of guard’, reported The Caravan.
The next day he flew to Delhi to meet BJP national president J P Nadda and BL Santhosh, the party’s national general secretary. He was notified that he will not be the CM candidate for the upcoming polls in 2022 and asked him to step down, stated the media report.
On 9 March, Trivendra’s sudden resignation led to speculations, but no one knew the real reason. Trivendra was then replaced by Tirath, just a day before the first shahi snan was scheduled on 11 March, the day of the festival of Mahashivaratri. His first order was to shower rose petals on the Kumbh seers from a chopper during the Mahashivratri snan.
He insisted that Kumbh remained open to all without any restrictions. “Nobody will be stopped in the name of COVID-19 as we are sure that faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus,” Tirath said. Barely two days after he made the statement, he tested positive for COVID.
On 9 April, the RSS announced that RSS’ Bhagwat had tested positive and Narendra, the head of the ABAP, had been hospitalized on 13 April for COVID. Former CM of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav, too, had been infected and Mahamandaleshwar Kapil Dev Das of the Nirvani Akhada died from COVID-19 complications in Haridwar. Nepal’s former royals, Komal Rajya Lakshmi Devi and Gyanendra and Alok Kumar, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s executive chairman, too, had been infected.
By the end of March, the Uttarakhand High Court took note of the emergency and directed the state government to conduct 50,000 tests per day. On 17 April, Modi finally appealed to the various mahants to host the last dip symbolically. Incidentally, it has to be recalled that Trivendra Singh Rawat was removed for asking for a symbolic dip.
However, not all akharas obliged and over 25,000 people participated in the “symbolic” last shahi snan on 27 April.
Consequences of Mega Gatherings in India
Uttarakhand recorded a 1,800 percent increase in COVID-19 cases between 31 March and 24 April, when the Kumbh was held. Uttarakhand recorded an 1800% increase in COVID-19 cases between 31 March and 24 April when the Mahakumbh was held and many top saints already tested positive. Many went back to their villages positive and people died.
The massive gathering turned into a ‘super spreader event as the state recorded 1.3 lakh COVID-19 cases in just about a month, which was more than half of the state’s case tally to date.
The state registered 1,713 COVID-19 deaths during this time, which was nearly half of the state’s total fatalities due to the disease since the time the pandemic began in 2020.
Uttarakhand, with a 24 percent positivity rate, recorded 151 deaths on Thursday and 137 deaths on Friday.
The total number of active cases in the state stood at 1,863 on 31 March before the festival began and shot up to 33,330 by 24 April.
Meanwhile, the present chief minister, Tirath Singh Rawat, is still in denial and consistently refuses to accept that the Kumbh was a super-spreader event.
India is collapsing under the second COVID wave
After the claustrophobic 2020 lockdown, the “prison doors” were flung open and millions in India rushed out in throngs to public places, movie halls, shopping malls, election rallies, Kumbh Mela, ceremonies, weddings, travel, parks, and mega-events, forgetting that the coronavirus was still lurking in the air flying around looking for its next victim. And then, one by one, people started dying. A terrible crisis hit India with lack of vaccines, oxygen, medicines and hospital beds.
For lack of burial and cremation space, bodies are piling up in numerous numbers and many bodies are thrown into rivers and ravines. One cannot calculate the number of catastrophic epidemics that will soon strike India with a worse intensity.
The second wave continues to ravage India, with talk of a third wave coming soon.
There are over 4 lakh COVID cases in 24 hours and the worst death toll of over 4000 attributed to mass gatherings hitting new global records amid the third phase of the world’s largest vaccination drive starting on May 1, even as several States flag vaccine shortage.
Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, told a news conference. “The exponential growth that we have seen in case numbers is really, truly astonishing, we have seen similar trajectories of increases in transmission in a number of countries, it has not been at the same scale and it has not had the same level of impact of a burden on the healthcare system that we have seen in India.”
Several countries banned travel to India due to dangerous 2nd wave in India n now, US decided to restrict travel from India starting May 4 due to the ‘extraordinarily high caseload and multiple variants of COVID-19 found in India and Australia has even warned of a five-year jail term for those defying the new rule!
The government on Friday granted emergency financial powers to armed forces to strengthen their efforts in the battle against COVID-19. These new powers will help them operate departments, buy equipment and resources, and implement any required urgent assignments.
Several nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan among others, have promised sustained support to India as hospitals in India struggle for supplies. The country received the first batch of COVID supplies from the US on Friday.
While help is on the way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s extravagances and insensitivity of building Central Vista and earlier statues during this time are catching world attention and the UK says India took £1.1billion in aid and at the same time spent £330million on the Statue of Unity.
Tory MP Peter Bone told a British publication, “What it proves is that we should not be giving money to India. It is up to them how they spend their money but if they can afford this statue, then it is clearly a country we should not need to be giving aid to.”
It has to be remembered that India is still in a war with Coronavirus and it is not over until it is completely over and nobody is safe until everyone is safe.