December 2, 2021
Saugata Roy speaks during discussion on COVID-19 pandemic and related aspects under Rule 193
Sir, I rise to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the worst to happen in the country since the Spanish flu hit the country in 1919. After 100 years, a pandemic has come to this country.
Sir, I am not here to blame anybody but I do pay my tributes to the brave Covid warriors, the doctors, the nurses, the paramedical staff at the hospitals. I pay particular tribute to 2 doctors, Dr. Balram Bhargava of ICMR and Dr. Randeep Guleria of AIIMS, who have done much to improve our knowledge of the virus. Very little was known about this virus. It is strange that an organism that cannot be seen except under an electron microscope can cause such havoc among the people.
Now when I rise to speak here, I must say that we are caught unprepared like the Indian Army in 1962, when the Chinese attacked. We did not have Covid hospital beds, we did not have ventilators, drugs like Hydroxychloroquine Remdesivir, we did not have oxygen, we did not have oxygen plants. We are fighting a mighty enemy — the Covid-19 virus the country was not prepared for.
And Sir, if I may humbly say that part of this unpreparedness was due to the complacency of the Prime Minister himself. Sir, with all responsibility, I must say that in this House, we were discussing the Budget, the Prime Minister was here, and the day’s session had ended. Supriya, Kanimozhi and others told me why don’t you approach the Prime Minister to adjourn the House because a pandemic is coming. I went personally to Narendra Modi, I say it on oath. I told him that why don’t you adjourn the House, pandemic has started. He said, nahi nahi log chutti chahte hain is liye they want the House to be adjourned. I am saying it with responsibility and this complacent attitude was there the same morning I had spoken to Dr. Harshvardhan. I said do something about the pandemic. (Woh) bola nahi nahi, pandemic control ho jayega. After I spoke to Narendra Modi, five days later, he said aap thali bajao, pandra din main corona khatam ho jayega. If I am wrong, bring a privilege against me. I am saying, I will provide the proof.
Sir, please listen to me. The corona first wave went, the country was totally unprepared. It’s true that the country rose to the occasion. We slowly started getting ventilators, hospital beds, oxygen plants …. All the states put in their efforts, there is no doubt about that. Then the Prime Minister made a second mistake. In January 2021, he said, “Bharat Vishwaguru hai, humne assi (80) desh mein vaccine export kiye hain aur hum corona ko daba liye hain”. He said it, our Prime Minister.
Then what happened? Then, in April and May, the second wave hit the country. We were not prepared. Daily four lakh cases. If the Prime Minister had not been complacent in January 2021, this would not have happened. I say it with responsibility. Sir, I can tell you that personally, during corona times, I did not stay at home for one day. I tried to arrange for cremation of people. Unlike Uttar Pradesh, Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh, we did not let the dead bodies rot in the Ganges. We arranged for their cremation. Everyday I was admitting ten-twenty patients in hospitals which were declared COVID hospitals. We were trying to get Remdesivir and hydroxychloroquin for the patients, and we were arranging for food for the poor migrant workers who had come. It’s God’s grace, I did not contract corona. Everyday I was in touch with these people. We did not escape our responsibility.
Covishield was manufactured by Serum Institute in Pune. Mr Poonawala did a great job in manufacturing. Then, CoVaxin, which is also a good vaccine, though it was recognised very late by WHO. Bharat Biotech and ICMR also did a great job. But till today Sir, I do not know what about the other vaccines that have been discovered in the world? Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson—all these vaccines, whether they have come to India and whether they can be used is the question. The Minister must answer.
The next question is that Sir, I have taken two vaccines, is a booster dose necessary? The ICMR has not issued any directive yet. I’m an old man, Sir, with co-morbidities. I’ve got high diabetes. I’ve taken two vaccines. I’ve mixed with many Corona people, but I just want to get this clear: whether we should take a third dose, the booster dose? The government must clarify this.
What about testing? Now Omicron has come, you know they are using Greek alphabets. First it was alpha, second wave was that of the delta variant, now it is Omicron. Omicron has come to South Africa. We have to protect ourselves. Our airports are being told to observe carefulness and caution. Now strange orders are coming. They are saying that everybody has to do RT-PCR at airports. It costs Rs 4,500 for every person. Why and then you will have to say, stay seven days in quarantine.
Sir, the country did stand up to Corona. If the mistakes had not been made from the top, the country would have combatted Corona even better. We have got scientists, we have got doctors, we have got Covid warriors who can fight the Corona. They don’t need politicians like us but the political leadership must stop giving a wrong direction, must not develop complacency. Corona is the biggest crisis in 100 years, we should have met it with the alacrity that it demanded.
Thank you very much for allowing me to discuss the Corona pandemic.