Justice Markandey Katju-
On Sunday a new government was formed in Israel called an emergency unity government, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling party and Blue and White party (Opposition) leader Benny Gantz’ s opposition party will both be members, Netanyahu being PM for the first 18 months, and Gantz being PM for the next 18 months.
I have been repeatedly pleading to PM Modi to do something similar and form a National Govt, as PM Churchill had done in May 1940 when faced with the danger of Nazi invasion. If Modi does that he will be hailed as another Churchill.
It is evident that the Prime Minister declared the lockdown in a huff on the evening of 24th March without proper deliberation and wide consultation ( as he had done when announcing demonetisation), and without giving any adequate advance notice to the public. The result is before us : lacs of migrants wandering like zombies with their families on their trek of hundreds of kilometers to their villages ( some dying en route ), and millions of starving daily wagers rendered without a livelihood. Modi’s plight is like that of Napoleon who reached Moscow in 1812 but then did not know what to do.
The economy, which had already tanked before the lockdown, is spirallling rapidly downwards, and it is evident the massive problems facing the nation are too big for Modi or the BJP alone to handle.
Before the situation goes totally out of control and food riots erupt and chaos occurs, a National Government of Unity, comprising of people from all political parties, as well as leading scientists, economists, industrialists and administrators is absolutely imperative and must be formed. In other words, it is only the united effort of all Indians which can salvage the situation. Nirmala Sitharaman’s stimulus packages are meaningless, and evoke the response ( in the words of an Urdu poet ) :
“ Tu idhar udhar ki na baat kar
Yeh bataa qafila kyon luta ? “
Modiji, please set aside political and ideological differences, rise to the occasion and emulate the example of Israel and Churchill and form a National Unity Govt without any further delay.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are their own].