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Even though Mumbai was among the cities hardest hit by the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic, reporting thousands of cases a day during its peak, Bollywood appears to have entered into what appears to be a colossal public relations exercise aimed at whitewashing the mismanagement of COVID and to paint an alternate reality on the tragedy.

To that end, in what seemed like a shot straight out of a toolbox, several Bollywood actors, who would probably never have read a book in their privileged lives, rushed to promote a book written by the biographer. of Rajiv Gandhi lavishing praise on BMC commissioner and hailing him as a “COVID warrior”.

The campaign appeared all the more suspicious as a group of Bollywood stars gathered, oddly within hours, to rent a book written by Minhaz Merchant about BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, congratulating him for handling the coronavirus outbreak in Mumbai.

Bollywood gathers to hail book praising BMC commissioner’s ‘Mumbai model’ to fight coronavirus outbreak

Actor Shah Rukh Khan raved about the book, calling it a “must-read” which tells the true story of “successfully pursuing and nailing the COVID virus by the BMC team”.

Ajay Devgn also joined in the efforts to promote the book praising the BMC commissioner.

Kapil Sharma, a comedian, also posted an approving tweet, congratulating Iqbal Singh Chahal and touting the book as a “must-read”.

Salman Khan, who is often criticized by critics as an actor who doesn’t bother to read scripts before signing on to films, also hailed the book as “an unparalleled story of courage and resilience”.

Actor Anil Kapoor tweeted, “Mumbai’s Pride”: Mumbai Covid Fight Model. A must read book based on the story of @lqbalSinghChah2 written by @MinhazMerchant.

“Congratulations @IqbalSinghChah2 Bhaji. So proud of you,” Sonu Sood tweeted along with the photo from the book.

Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted in the 1993 Mumbai blast case, thanked Iqbal Singh Chahal for sending him the book and for his “extraordinary efforts to establish the ‘Mumbai model’ of fighting COVID-19”.

Similarly, other actors have also taken to social media to rave about the book praising Iqbal Singh Chahal for the much-vaunted ‘Mumbai model’ of tackling the coronavirus outbreak.

While the purported PR campaign may be aimed at boosting sales of the book, it’s also an attempt to airbrush the mismanagement seen during the coronavirus outbreak and the tribulations faced by people when the pandemic took hold. swept the country, with Maharashtra and Mumbai among the worst-affected by the contagion.

Old PR shenanigans by government to deflect criticism of its mishandling of COVID

And it’s not the first time that some sort of public relations campaign has reportedly been launched to improve the state government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. In April 2020, a tweet by Urvashi Rautela fueled suspicions that a marketing campaign had been launched to show how CM Uddhav Thackeray was the best chief minister and was handling the pandemic rather effectively.

The Hindustan Times wrote in an article how Urvashi Rautela was a habitual plagiarist when it came to tweeting on the microblogging website. The article says she “regularly steals tweets” from actor Sidharth Malhotra.

The article said: Actor Urvashi Rautela has definitely not learned the lesson. After being called out by an American writer for copying and pasting her tweet about the movie Parasite, she once again plagiarized someone’s tweet. This time Urvashi stole actor Sidharth Malhotra’s tweet of appreciation for the Mumbai police for implementing the coronavirus lockdown. “This is a time to give our heartfelt thanks to our Mumbai Police who leave their families at home and work with their high spirit and tireless efforts for our safety and security…You are the real heroes #ThankYouMumbaiPolice,” said wrote Sidharth in his tweet.

The tweets mentioned in the Hindustan Times article contributed to a hashtag on Twitter, #ThankYouMumbaiPolice. A hashtag several Bollywood celebrities had tweeted under, raising suspicions of an organized campaign to magnify the state government and city police’s handling of the coronavirus lockdown.

Even as the book hailing Iqbal Singh Chahal for the highly marketed “Mumbai Model” is published, it should be noted that Mumbai has struggled to cope with the threat of COVID-19.

Maharashtra and Mumbai have been among the hardest hit due to the coronavirus outbreak

On May 27, 2020, it was reported that Mumbai had 32,791 cases and it accounted for 62% of the total coronavirus cases in Maharashtra. Amid the alarming scenario of the coronavirus outbreak in the state, data revealed that the healthcare system was overstretched and headed for imminent collapse.

According to BMC data, 99% of the 645 intensive care units (ICUs) were occupied at that time. Additionally, there were 373 fans in the city, of which 72% were occupied. In addition, 65% of a total of 4,292 oxygen beds were used.

Of the total 4,43,960 COVID-19 related deaths recorded in India till September 2021, over 30% were recorded in Maharashtra. 1,38,277 people in Maharashtra have lost their lives due to the pandemic.