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Covid, economy: Opposition submits 11-point charter to Centre

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 22, 2020 Published on May 22, 2020

Migrants hitch a ride back to their home State during the nationwide lockdown in Bhubaneswar (file pic) Biswaranjan Rout

22 parties in the Opposition camp, which met here on Friday through video conferencing, submitted a 11-point demand charter to the Centre that includes direct benefits transfer to all non-Income Tax payees and more financial assistance to states.

The meeting, to exchange views on the extraordinary situation in the country arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, assessed that the economy of the country has collapsed. "All sections of society face acute distress. Livelihoods have been destroyed. Lives have been lost," the parties said in a joint statement. While extending their full cooperation to the Union Government, they pointed out that the Centre has failed in discharging its responsibilities in a timely, effective and sensitive manner. "Grand announcements have been made but they do nothing meaningful to alleviate the sufferings of people and address the pressing concerns of farmers and farm labour, of migrant and other workers, of trade, & commerce, MSMEs and industry. In fact, the Union Government has unabashedly usurped powers vested in the States, undermining the constitutionally guaranteed federal democracy," the statement said.

Urging the Centre not to to indulge in showmanship nor one-upmanship, the parties said this is the time for a gigantic collective endeavour. It asked the Centre to reach out to all sections of people and engages in a dialogue with all political parties in a systematic manner, listen seriously to the suggestions that they have to make, activate Parliamentary institutions like Standing Committees and be genuine in helping the states financially and otherwise.

The demand charter of the parties include direct cash transfer of Rs 7,500/- per month to all families outside the Income Tax bracket for six months. "Rs. 10,000 to be paid immediately, with the balance being paid equally across the remaining five months," they said.

"Free distribution of 10 kg food grains to all needy individuals, each month for the next six months. Increase the number of MGNREGA work days to 200 and provide the necessary budgetary support. Free transportation for all migrant workers to their native places. Also make immediate and reliable arrangements to rescue all Indian students and other citizens stranded overseas," they demanded.

They asked the Centre to provide accurate and relevant information on Covid-19 infections and goalposts vis-à-vis testing, infrastructure and containing spread and reverse all unilateral policy decisions particularly the annulment of labour laws.

“Procure immediately the rabi harvest at MSP and provide assistance to reach the produce to the market. The Government must also provide seeds, fertilisers and other inputs to the farmers to help prepare for the kharif crop. Release substantial funds to the state governments who are in the frontline of combating the pandemic. Communicate in clear terms, the Central Government’s exit strategy from the lockdown, if any. Restore Parliamentary functioning and oversight with immediate effect. Present a clear and meaningful economic strategy focused on revival and poverty alleviation instead of propaganda. The Rs 20-lakh crore package and its contents mislead the people of India. We demand that government present a revised and comprehensive package that will be a true fiscal stimulus in order to stimulate demand in the economy. Consult State Governments while allowing international/ domestic flights," the charter added.

Published on May 22, 2020

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