When Social Media Was Flooded With COVID SOS Calls, Union Ministers Only Praised Centre

Dainik Bhaskar's analysis of tweets posted by ten Union ministers revealed that none of them tweeted to help a COVID-19 victim find an oxygen cylinder or a hospital bed through handles.

New Delhi: During the first two weeks of May when social media was filled with SOS messages for ‘oxygen’ and ‘ventilator beds’, Union ministers were proactive on Twitter praising the prime minister and the Centre’s efforts in managing the pandemic. A report by Dainik Bhaskar analysed 1,110 tweets of ten ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet between May 1 to 14 – when the coronavirus infections during the second wave hit record highs

The report revealed that none of the ministers helped a COVID-19 victim find an oxygen cylinder or a hospital bed through their official Twitter handles even as people were dying for want of oxygen and ventilator beds.

The report revealed home minister Amit Shah made just one tweet related to the preparations to deal with the coronavirus, between May 1 to 14. However, Shah’s Twitter timeline has more posts related to election, birth and death anniversaries and condolences – a seeming indifference to the fact that India was reeling under the second wave of the pandemic.

This is in stark contrast to how many ministers rushed to share an article written by a BJP leader that defended Modi, at a time when the prime minister was facing flak in the country and abroad for his handling of the pandemic.

During the same period, defence minister Rajnath Singh has only five tweets related to COVID-19 preparedness which includes efforts by the army and his visit to Lucknow. He has also retweeted some of Modi’s tweets.

According to Dainik Bhaskar, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar made 37 tweets related to the preparation of COVID-19 from May 1-14. Most of these tweets thanked representatives of other nations for supplying COVID-19  related medical supplies to India, and included updates on the G7 summit. After some Indian delegates tested positive at the G7 summit, Jaishankar tweeted about conducting meetings in virtual mode. On May 8, a few days after he had come in contact with some persons who had the viral infection, he tweeted that he did not have COVID-19.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a total of 48 tweets, out of which 22 were related to COVID-19. One of her tweets was related to GST on vaccines. Other tweets spoke about PM-Kisan, housing schemes, etc. She also retweeted many of Prime Minister Modi’s tweets.

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted 247 times during this period. Most of his tweets were related to COVID-19, including figures on cases, information about vaccines and hospital visits he made and efforts by the government. In many tweets, he defended Prime Minister Modi and the Central government as they faced questions of mismanagement.

Union railways minister Piyush Goyal tweeted mostly about the ‘Oxygen Express’. Some of his tweets also defended the Central government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus in the country.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar’s Twitter timeline from May 1 to 14 has updates on vaccines and praises the government’s efforts. He has also retweeted several tweets from the Twitter handles of Modi, BJP and PIB.

Also read: India’s COVID-19 Disaster Has Changed Our Relationship With Death

Education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal (Nishank) has 285 tweets during the same period. Of these, 83 tweets were related to COVID-19, including messages on vaccines and awareness of the virus. According to the report, at least 24 tweets praised Prime Minister Modi.

Union Minister for Roads and Transport Nitin Gadkari had 32 COVID-19 related tweets, including updates on official meetings, vaccination drive in Nagpur and a visit to Genetic Life Sciences in Wardha to oversee production of Remdesivir. His tweets also include birthday greetings, death anniversaries and condolences. He has mostly retweeted posts of his office’s Twitter handle. Unlike many of his colleagues, he has not mentioned Prime Minister Modi in any of his tweets.

Minority welfare minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi made a total of 47 tweets, of which 13 were related to COVID-19.