“Please Sir, Please, Step Aside. At Least For Now. I Beseech You, Step Down.”

We need a government. Desperately. And we don’t have one. We are running out of air. We are dying. We don’t have systems in place to know what to do with help even when it’s on hand.

What can be done? Right here, right now?

We cannot wait till 2024. Never would people like myself have imagined the day would come when we would find ourselves appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for anything. Personally, I would rather have gone to prison than do that. But today, as we die in our homes, on the streets, in hospital car parks, in big cities, in small towns, in villages and forests and fields – I, an ordinary private citizen, am swallowing my pride to join millions of my fellow citizens in saying please sir, please, step aside. At least for now. I beseech you, step down. 

This is a crisis of your making. You cannot solve it. You can only make it worse. This virus prospers in an atmosphere of fear and hatred and ignorance. It prospers when you clamp down on those who speak out. It prospers when you manage the media to such an extent that the real truth is only reported in the international media. It prospers when you have a prime minister who has never held a single press conference in all his years in office, who is incapable of fielding questions, even now in this moment of numbing horror.

Hundreds of thousands of us will die, unnecessarily, if you don’t go. So, go now. Jhola utha ke. With your dignity intact. You can have a great life ahead, of meditation and solitude. You yourself have said that’s what you want. That won’t be possible if you allow this mass dying to continue.

There are many in your party who can take your place for now. People who know they must get on even with political opponents in this moment of crisis. Whoever that person is – from your party, with the approval of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – can head the government and a crisis management committee.

The state chief ministers can elect a few representatives so that all parties feel represented. The Congress by virtue of being a national party can be on the committee too. And then scientists, public health experts, doctors, experienced bureaucrats. You may not understand this, but this is what is known as democracy. You cannot have an Opposition-mukt democracy. That is known as a tyranny. This virus loves tyrannies.

If you don’t do this now, as this outbreak is increasingly viewed as an international problem, as a threat to the world, which it is – your incompetence is giving other countries a legitimate excuse to try and interfere in our affairs, try and take charge. This will compromise our hard fought for sovereignty. We will become a colony again. This is a serious possibility. Do not disregard it.

So please go. It is the most responsible thing for you to do. You have forfeited the moral right to be our prime minister.

Raiot

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Arundhati Roy Written by:

Arundhati Roy is a novelist born in Shillong. Her latest novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is out in paperback.

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