Congress, Left slam Centre’s measures to tackle Covid

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 25, 2020

Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala   -  The Hindu

The Opposition parties attacked the Centre for lack of preparation to deal with the economic distress that may hit the country during the lockdown to prevent spread of Covid-19. They urged the Centre to use direct benefit transfer for poor people across the country.

The Congress demanded implementation of its pet Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme (Nyay Yojana) and transfer ₹7,500 into every bank account under Jan Dhan, PM Kisan, pension schemes besides distribution of free ration through PDS. The party also asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce relief package for farmers, procurement and fair price for crops, indebtedness relief and suspension of all recoveries.

Government support

“India will adhere to the lockdown. But what steps did the government take to tackle the coronavirus pandemic despite early warnings in February? When will doctors, nurses and health workers get adequate protection? How many ‘isolation beds’ and ventilators are available and where?” asked Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala. He urged Modi to announce the plan to address the huge issue of bread and butter and livelihood for millions. “How will daily wagers, labourers, MGNREGA workers, factory workers, unorganised workers, fishermen, farmers and farm workers sustain for 21 days?” he asked.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said daily wage earners need immediate help through direct cash transfers into their accounts and free rations. “Delaying this will cause widespread devastation and chaos. Many industries are struggling. Act quickly by announcing tax breaks and financial support to prevent massive job losses and reassure business owners that the government will support them through this crisis,” he said.

Migrants worst hit

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in an open Letter to Modi that he is disappointed that no measures or relief announced for those who need the maximum support. “There are no measures to assist the poor migrants most hurt by such lockdowns. Most of them are stranded en route without food or shelter. How will they reach safe spaces? How will they survive without money or food and with reports of police harassment too?,” he said in the letter.

He reminded Modi that at least 45 crore Indians work on daily wages. “With several jobs gone with the 21-day lockdown, announced without any measures to take care of their precarious lives, they are in danger of their lives, and security of wages, but also chaos with no assurance forthcoming. This is the opposite of social distancing that we need at the moment to battle this pandemic,” he said.

The National Secretariat of the CPI said the financial package of ₹15,000 crore for healthcare is meagre. It said in a statement that the Modi government has been pursuing pro-rich, pro-corporate policies and giving concessions. It must now show some concern for the poor people by imposing Covid-19 tax on all corporates and high-net-worth taxpayers so that the poor hit by lockdown get some relief.

Published on March 25, 2020

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