Biased News Channels Will Not Distract Chief Minister Thackeray

It was barely two months after Uddhav Thackeray took charge as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, that too after a political battle that the entire country witnessed, that the country was hit by a massive pandemic. As the numbers started to rise, the CM had to create capacities to handle the COVID case load that was rising in the state. Instead of indulging in a political blame game, and accusing his predecessor of not creating enough health infrastructure across the state, he set about the task of tackling the biggest challenge the world was facing.

The Chief Minister set up an empowered task force to take steps that were necessary; its members were renowned names in the world of epidemiology/medicine and infectious diseases. The team leveraged technology to reach out to people and ramp up testing to identify and isolate patients; jumbo field hospitals were created to handle the caseload. Considering the government was formed after a hugely acrimonious exchange between the opposition and the party, it hasn't been easy to weather political storms while crusading for a cause that directly impacts the life of common citizens. However, the Chief Minister was very clear about stating, including in his address to the people, that this issue was above political differences.

Over the last few weeks, Chief Minister Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and Maharashtra have been at the centre of criticism in a campaign targeted at tarnishing their image. Many hate messages have been sent and shared with people across the country over allegations made by the opposition and the powerful parties or people associated with them. It was very clear that the entire campaign was funded on digital platforms to create an environment of fear and lies to attack the government; able support came from some clearly biased electronic media platforms. Never in India's democratic history have we seen a campaign against a state government that was this vicious and fuelled entirely by rumours.

However, amidst the Coronavirus crisis, thankfully, officials from the state government have not paid heed to the matter. The Chief Minister too decided not to address the same allegations during these tough times. Maharashtra is the hub for several businesses as well as India's important financial state. The state has been home for many years now for citizens from other states who have sought opportunities here and the state has welcomed these people with open arms. So this agenda-driven narrative has been dismissed by residents of Maharashtra with the contempt it truly deserves.

While addressing the media recently via a video conference, Chief Minister Thackeray spoke issues which matter to the people in this time - with Unlock 4.0 guidelines, several activities have resumed in the state, and keeping this in mind, he asked the people to support the steps taken by the government. Further, he requested everybody in the state to take responsibility for their and their family's health, thereby emphasising how important public participation is. Besides expressing their appreciation, viewers also shared some suggestions and points, showing their support for the government.

Every step and decision taken towards the betterment of the state and its people is incomplete without their support and receiving this at every step on a regular basis adds significant value. While appreciation for efforts are heart-warming, a leader takes pride and works harder when his people, his family, express their belief in him or her. The support received shows noise on news channels doesn't matter, true leaders focus only on good governance.

(Priyanka Chaturvedi is Member of Rajya Sabha and Deputy Leader Shiv Sena)

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