Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Saturday used a Pakist platform to state that things with respect to coronavirus in India were "not good" and "we look with envy" across the border and that people in Pakistan seem to be having "a pleasant time of it in terms of being able to return to normalcy".
The MP also targeted the BJP-led government, saying there was "complacency" and a "huge fuss" was made about US President Donald Trump's visit to India in February with "lots of crowds lining the streets".
He, however, noted that the gap between reported cases in India and Pakistan would be due to far more testing being done by former and that did not know how many people or percentage of the population was being tested by the latter.
Tharoor was taking part in a conversation during Lahore ThinkFest on the theme "How Covid Has Changed the World" with Pakist journalist Khurram Husain.
Husain asked him how things were in India in respect to COVID-19. "Obviously not good. We look with envy across the border because you chaps seem to be having a pleasant time of it, in terms of being able to return to normalcy. We are facing may places where numbers are going up. So there is no sense yet of a peak having been reached and in some parts, including both the capital Delhi where I am, and my constituency Thiruvananthapuram, the number are worse than they ever been," Tharoor said.
Answering a query, he said India was identifying more cases due to ramped-up testing and a lot of people in Pakistan may have been or were coroanvirus positive and just not being counted because they are asymptomatic and not being tested.
"Partly, of course, the more you test the more you find and, therefore, as the testing has been ramped up considerably we are identifying more and more people infected and I don't know how many people or percentage of the population you have been able to test in Pakistan. So it is possible that a lot of people in Pakistan may have had it and are just not being counted because they are asymptomatic," he said.
Asked how rising COVID-19 number has impacted "political fortunes" of the central government, Tharoor said that the polls suggest that it has not hurt them politically as it should.
"It is paradoxical that government in India is not doing well and people realise that the government is not doing well in terms of managing COVID-19 but the polls suggest that it is not hurt them politically as it should. So we in the opposition do point out that," he said.
The former union minister said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had mentioned as early as February that COVID-19 has to be taken more seriously than the government was taking it and preventive measures had to be put in place immediately.
"Whereas the government was not only complacent, the following month, they invited President Trump for a grand reception in Ahmedabad and brought him to Delhi and made a huge fuss about him with lots of crowd lining the streets. All the stuff you are not supposed to do if you want to contain the contagion and yet curiously the polls show Modi still riding very high," he said.
The Union Health Ministry said on Saturday that India has leaped across a significant milestone in its fight against COVID-19 and the active caseload of the country has fallen below eight lakh for the first time after one-and- a-half months. It said that with a high number of COVID patients recovering every day, India's steady trend of registering dipping active cases continues.
( With inputs from ANI )
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