There would be a hypocritical ring to attempts at self-adulation on the 70th anniversary of Independence when headlines scream about negligence-triggered deaths in a Gorakhpur hospital.

Worse is the state government’s deliberate underplaying the tragedy, and the Centre offering a token response ~ the underlying message being that every situation is now assessed through a political prism, and that the plight of the afflicted people is of less concern to the government than the fallout on the party in power.

Just five months ago UP voted the BJP to power in the hope that the traditionally mal-administered state might be unshackled from the sloth that has characterised its governance: that hope has been negated by the spate of deaths in the BRD Medical College Hospital on the home turf of chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

That non-payment of bills to the suppliers of life-supporting oxygen is suspected to be the prime cause of the deaths exposes the quality of governance provided by a chief minister hand-picked by the BJP leadership.

For while the administration in the state continues to wallow in incompetence, the “new” government is terribly eager to promote the “saffron culture” ~ little need to detail evidence of that. Will the suspension of the college principal, or an inquiry by the chief secretary suffice to address such a grave situation, will the token expression of concern from New Delhi remedy the lack of governance?

These are queries that will “drown out” much of what Narendra Modi may offer from the Red Fort this morning. Words and slogans are meaningless when sick children are starved of oxygen in a key hospital in a major town. The lesson that is unlikely to be learned is that winning an election is the beginning and not the end of political action.

The “choice” of the UP chief minister has certainly consolidated the party’s gains in the polls in March, and Yogi Adityanath continues to lead a BJP-march. Yet even within his party there are rumblings about his being out of his depth in the administrative sphere ~ a tendency noticed in other “BJP success-stories” in Maharashtra and Haryana. This only establishes that the Modi-Shah formula runs out of currency once a government is installed.

The focus is skewed: a point reconfirmed by a minister in UP citing statistics to suggest that there had been as many deaths in the past too.

The Congress, Samajwadi and BSP politicians swim in the same filthy waters when proving that our leaders specialise in baking cakes on funeral pyres. There may a high degree of cynicism to the suggestion, but it would not be irrelevant ~ even if it is irreverent ~ to ask how far has the nation progressed since 1947 when human life comes as cheap as in Gorakhpur?