India’s plan to fight Covid-19 triggered a political blame game on Saturday with the Congress asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the nation on a lockdown exit plan and the Centre calling the Opposition rudderless.
The Congress said the Union home ministry’s order on the extension of the curbs on Friday left many queries unanswered.
“The order for the lockdown 3.0 did not come with an address from the PM [Prime Minister], and neither did the [Union] home minister [Amit Shah] come forward to make an announcement. Not even a single officer of the government chose to make an appearance,” said Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
He said the government should spell out the purpose, objective and strategy behind the lockdown, whether there will be more lockdowns and the strategy to deal with economic distress. “What is the exit strategy, what is the PM’s policy and what is the roadmap? Are there grants for the sowing of the next kharif crops, and what are the arrangements for ensuring livelihood and ration for over 400 million urban and rural poor. Is there a relief package for the 42.5 million MSMEs [Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises]? These are questions that need answers.”
He said the Congress has proposed a financial exit plan and recommended the government to transfer Rs 7,500 into Jan Dhan, PM Kisan Yojana accounts and those of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee labourers, senior citizen, widow, and physically handicapped pensioners. “In addition, 10 kg of food grains, one kg pulses and half kg of sugar be given per person per family for sustenance. The government must also ensure free travel in sanitised trains for the stranded migrant workers,” he said.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar dismissed criticism over the Centre’s efforts to check the pandemic, saying the government is more interested in saving lives and livelihoods than indulging in verbal duels.
“As far as Opposition is concerned, I think they are rudderless. They have no agenda or issues,” he told news agency ANI. “They have not said a single good thing, nor given any good suggestions. Now they are blaming the government on points on which they earlier agreed. There is a complete bankruptcy of political opponents.”
Javadekar was responding to Congress leaders allegations of corruption in acquiring coronavirus testing kits, discrimination in sending kits to states, and managing the issue of migrant workers.
(With agency inputs)