It is business as usual in Bengal. Better to say, political business. Go to any rally, whether it is addressed by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, or Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister, you will find a stark similarity. Tens of thousands have gathered, they all sitting or standing close by each other, and 90 per cent of them are not wearing any mask.
“It’s too hot,” is the simple answer if you ask them why they do not care for Covid-19 norms. It is true. It is too hot. In some parts of Bengal temperature rose recently above 40 degrees. But the political parties have to demonstrate their strength. And for different reasons, the common man is attracted to these rallies. Wearing a mask when you are sweating out constantly is really a horrible job.
No doubt this can be interpreted as an invitation to Covid-19, and the deadly disease has apparently accepted the invitation. On the 1st of March, the number of new cases in Kolkata was 62. A month later, on 2nd April, it was 513. Similarly, for North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Howrah (three districts adjacent to Kolkata), the figures on the first day of March were respectively 48, 14 and 11. On the 2nd of April, the figures stood at 331,159 and 173. If we take the total figure of newly affected patients, on 1st March it was 135, and on 2nd of April, the figure rose to 1176. It also needs to be recorded that during last one month, the figures rose steadily to reach the present level.
Alarming? Of course, it is, particularly in the backdrop of the second wave of the dreaded disease in the country. It is surely the first sign of the new wave entering West Bengal.
But is anyone worried? No, neither the Prime Minister, nor the Chief Minister. They will slog it out till the end of this month. And millions of people will join them in their rallies and rathayatras or padayatras. It is only likely that the leaders and their supporters will be the super-spreaders of the disease. But, no one can stop them. Can anyone?