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Kamal Haasan pens open letter to PM Modi criticising implementation of the lockdown

The President of the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) said the common populace cannot be blamed for being ill-prepared for a crisis of this magnitude but that the Prime Minister could and would be blamed for this as the 'strict and immediate' lockdown was 'almost demonitisation style.'

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 08, 2020, 07.58 AM IST
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Chennai: "I am sorry to say that sir, this time your vision failed," actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan said in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday on the "ill-planned" implementation of the 21-day national lockdown, which was imposed to arrest the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

The President of the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) said the common populace cannot be blamed for being ill-prepared for a crisis of this magnitude but that the Prime Minister could and would be blamed for this as the 'strict and immediate' lockdown was 'almost demonetisation style.'

"You ordered an entire nation of 1.4 billion people to shut down within 4 hours," he said. "A mere 4 hour notice period for the people when you had a 4 month notice period... My biggest fear is that the same mistake of demonetisation is being repeated albeit at a much bigger scale."

In his first letter to the PM Narendra Modi on this issue on March 23, a day before the lockdown, Kamal Haasan had urged the government to take adequate measures to shield the vulnerable sections from the impact of the uncertainty that came with this virus.

Haasan said that on one hand the Prime Minister was asking the more privileged people to put up a spectacle of lights while on the other hand the poor man’s plight was becoming a shameful spectacle. He said that while everyone would comply with his (the PM's) wishes and orders, this compliance must not be confused as subjugation.

He said that while these 'psychotherapy techniques' were being adopted to address the "first world anxiety problems of the ‘haves’ who have a balcony to cheer," what would happen to those who don’t have a roof over their heads.

"I am sure you don’t want to be a balcony government only for the balcony people by completely ignoring the poor who are biggest constituent of our society, our support system and the foundation on which the middle-class, the well-to-do and the rich build their lives... History has proven that any efforts to destroy the bottom has led to the toppling of the top. Even science will agree here!"

Further, he said in his letter that this was the first crisis and epidemic that the top of the society has inflicted upon the bottom. He said the emphasis seems to be on securing "an already well-built middle-class fortress."

"I would like to see you doing more to secure everybody’s fortress and ensure that nobody goes to bed hungry. COVID-19 will continue to find more victims but we are creating a fertile playground for Hunger(H), Exhaustion(E) and Deprivation(D) of the poor. HED ’20 is a malady that is smaller in profile but far deadlier compared to COVID-19.It’s impact will be felt long after COVID-19 has vanished," he said.

He also said the Prime Minister seemed comfortable outsourcing responsible behaviour to the common people and transparency to the State governments.

"This is the perception you are creating, especially amongst those who spend enough time working toward and intellectualising for a great today and tomorrow for India. I am sorry if I have offended you with the use of the word intellectual here, for I know that you and your government does not like that word. But I am a follower of Periyar and Gandhi and I know they were intellectuals first. It’s the intellect that guides one into choosing a path of righteousness, equality and prosperity for all," he said.

Haasan said the system had failed to stop congregations of 'ignorant and foolish people' in different parts of the country which become the biggest hubs for the spread of the epidemic in India.

"Sir, this is the time to listen to voices who truly care. I do care. It’s the time to smudge all boundaries and give a clarion call to everyone to come on to your side and help. India’s biggest potential is its human potential and we have tided over bigger crises in the past. We will overcome this too but it must be done in a way that brings everyone together and doesn’t become yet another reason to choose sides. We are angry but we are still on your side," he said.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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