Legendary Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh, affected with Covid-19 and staying in home isolation, passed away today. Staying at home was the 90-year-old poet’s deliberate decision. Last November, legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee too succumbed to Covid-19 at the age of 85. People of West Bengal had mourned Chatterjee’s death. Ghosh too will be remembered for a long, long time, as over the decades he emerged the voice of Bengali conscience.
Many famous persons and a far larger number of common men and women have succumbed to Covid in the last year. Most of them were old people. West Bengal government’s statistics claim 8,890 persons out of these 10,652 had co-morbidity. Like everywhere else, Bengal too has failed to gear up the health system to give some protection to the most vulnerable section of our population.
And now, as the second wave is affecting West Bengal, lack of beds at hospitals and insufficient doses of vaccine have caused panic among the people as, unlike during the first wave, the second wave is spreading fast in the districts away from Kolkata.
Some people have started questioning both the state and central governments now, which is not good news for TMC or BJP in this election season. Some have valid questions. “When the number of affected is much less in West Bengal, how is it that we’ve so much problem now, and what will happen if we ever reach the stage of Maharashtra?”
Sujan Chakraborty, an important leader of the CPI(M), who was seen campaigning without wearing a mask, is now been affected with Covid-19. But both Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhisekh Banerjee are still addressing big gatherings. So is Narendra Modi and Amit Shah of the BJP. However, the BJP has now announced that even in Modi’s meetings they will limit the number of people present to 500.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)