The virus, in its second coming, has consumed Karnataka like a wildfire. The state apparatus, lulled into a deceptive sense of victory as the first wave abated, was literally hit from behind. Consequently, when cries for oxygen and hospital beds started rending the air, chaos reigned and the districts were left to fight it out with each other on demand-supply. Most stark was the finger-pointing between Mysuru and Chamarajanagar - the latter saw over two dozen patients gasping to death in one brief spell of horror (14 more died thereafter).
Bengaluru, however, is by far the most ravaged. Everything was/is in short supply - oxygen, hospitals, beds, medicines, space to bid a dignified farewell to the dead. Ministers, MPs and MLAs scramble to cater to their irate constituents and supporters. This is the context in which South Bengaluru MP Tejaswi Surya - who excels in turning himself into the news - pulled his communal cowboy act, claiming to have unearthed a bed allocation scam in one of Bengaluru Corporation's COVID war rooms. Why the names he read out were to be deemed de facto guilty was no secret - religion was itself offered as the sign of guilt. One of the MLAs in his team even spat out the word 'madrassa'. A bureaucrat with no link to bed allocation process was dragged in too. Same reason, of course.
After a public backlash, Surya was forced to issue a partial apology (though not admitting to his real, wilful mistake), and 16 innocent employees were reinstated. No Indian municipal corporation is above blemish. But for lawmakers to vilify and target a community amidst a full-blown pandemic is shockingly reminiscent of the worst the world has seen. Leave aside their constitutional oath, we are reminded of the supremacist posses of the American South in another century. In these dark times, the least lawmakers can do is not add to the darkness around us. There must be a price to pay for this.