NEW DELHI: Alleging a failure of governance in Uttar Pradesh in the face of the COVID-19 second wave, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has said the Yogi Adityanath dispensation long ceased to act as a protector and support system for the people in the state, and has increasingly assumed the role of an "aggressor".
In an interview with PTI, the Congress general secretary in-charge Uttar Pradesh also said the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was simply another reflection of the UP government's "arrogant, autocratic and inhuman attitude" towards the people of the state.
Her remarks came amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases, with the Uttar Pradesh government saying that the state had registered 33,214 fresh cases and 187 deaths on Wednesday, both the highest daily rise so far.
Asked about the grim COVID-19 situation in the state, Priyanka Gandhi said the fundamental issue is that the government in UP has long ceased to act as a protector, facilitator and a support system for the public.
"It (the state government) has increasingly assumed the role of an aggressor. The handling of the COVID pandemic is simply another reflection of its arrogant, autocratic and inhuman attitude towards the people of UP," she said.
The biggest failure has been in governance as there has been no planning, no preparation and no foresight whatsoever, the Congress leader alleged.
"Countries all over the world faced a second wave -- what did we learn from them? How did we use the gap between the first and second wave to prepare UP for what was inevitably going to come?" Priyanka Gandhi asked.
The UP government's own serosurvey results showed 5 crore people were exposed to the virus which was indicative of a second wave coming, she said.
"The government was advised to exponentially ramp-up testing. What happened? They reduced overall testing, switched to up to 70 percent antigen testing, and ignored their own serosurvey reports," she said, hitting out at the state government.
Rather than putting every single resource into saving lives and combatting the pandemic, the UP government is still wasting time and resources on "covering up" the truth, Priyanka Gandhi alleged.
"The government has let people down. Their incompetence and lack of clarity is exacting an unprecedented human cost that no one should ever have had to pay," she said.
On the alleged lack of preparation to deal with the second wave, she said, "How else can the Chief Minister and his government explain that despite having months of time between one wave and the other, no effort was made to increase UP's capacity for hospital beds, for oxygen or for the availability of COVID medication."
"How else can they justify the number of hurdles they have placed before the public as it suffers through the horrors of the pandemic?" she asked.
Priyanka Gandhi also asked where else in the world does one needs approval from the district medical officer or the district magistrate to get admission to a hospital in the middle of a devastating pandemic.
"It is unheard of. How can the government justify that only 30 percent of the testing being done in UP is RT-PCR and 70 percent is antigen testing? Reports from across the state are coming in that private labs are being verbally instructed not to test," she said.
"What kind of governance is this?" The UP government has been rejecting criticism by opposition parties on its handling of the COVID-19 situation.
Priyanka Gandhi had earlier accused the Uttar Pradesh government of hiding coronavirus figures and said had they been cautious from day one, people would not have witnessed such times.
Earlier this week, she had slammed the "red-tapism" in Uttar Pradesh, alleging that lives were lost because COVID-19 patients needed permission from the district chief medical officers to get admission in hospitals.
In a letter to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, the Congress general secretary had urged the creation of a database of available hospitals and beds so that people can seek admission directly.
Priyanka Gandhi had also flagged the issue of oxygen availability, saying she had been told that people need permission from the district magistrate for hospital admission.
She had called for removal of all such rules causing difficulties for families of patients.