Even as chief minister Yogi Adityanath has earned praise for the Uttar Pradesh government announcing relief measures like direct benefit transfer to millions of daily wage earners and construction workers as well as advancing free food grains to the widowed, old age and handicapped pensioners, he has been getting flak for sending confused signals on social distancing.
Although he has endorsed social distancing as “the best way to defeat the pandemic and prevent its spread”, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown he was seen participating in an hour and half long religious ceremony in Ayodhya. The sizeable attendance included priests, security personnel and senior bureaucrats. At a time when even the Census exercise and Rajya Sabha elections have been postponed, while citizens are being persuaded to suspend their usual Navratri mass rituals, it is a great puzzle why the chief minister chose to participate in a ceremony that too should have been postponed.
It will not be easy to persuade all Indians to abide by social distancing. And the task will get tougher when it seems that there are different strokes for different folks.
Meanwhile, the Union cabinet was seen meeting distanced from each other, in a laudable choice after all those scenes of Parliament and the Madhya Pradesh assembly making a mockery of social distancing. But it is time to consider whether these meetings should also move offsite, as the meetings in countless other sectors have already done in the war against Covid-19.