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Don't neglect Opposition-ruled States: Rahul to Modi

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 22, 2021

Congress releases white paper on the management of Covid-19 by the Centre

The Congress on Tuesday released a white paper on the Centre’s handling of Covid-19. Releasing the 150-page report by the research unit of the Congress, senior leader Rahul Gandhi said the Centre is neglecting Opposition-ruled States on issues such as distribution of vaccines. He said the Opposition is trying to help the government in the fight against Covid and he urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “start thinking above narrow political lines.”

Gandhi said it’s clear that the management of the first and second wave of the pandemic was disastrous. “There were some central reasons as to why it was disastrous; we have tried to point out those reasons in our white paper. This is a blue print on how to react to the third wave, which is going to come. It is our intention to provide the government with information and insights on what went wrong,” he said.

BJP slams

The BJP retorted by saying that the second wave started from Congress-ruled States. “Congress-ruled States suffered more from the second wave. Number of deaths were also high in those States. Problems in distribution of vaccines were reported more from the Congress-ruled States. These States supported vaccine hesitancy,” claimed BJP spokesman Sambit Patra.

The white paper urged the Centre to ensure that all Indians receive free and universal vaccination in the shortest possible time frame. “The government should share a detailed weekly roadmap of progress toward its announced December 31, 2021 deadline to vaccinate all of India,” it said. Gandhi urged the Centre to start campaigning against vaccine hesitancy and make available all tested and proven vaccines in the country. “Collaborate with vaccine manufacturers, raw material suppliers, and foreign governments to ensure a steady supply of raw materials and vaccines for India,” the white paper of the Congress said.

The party reiterated the demand for compulsory licence provisions under the Patents Act 1970 to ramp up domestic vaccine production. “Allocate vaccines to States based on a transparent, justifiable formula, centred on evidence, equity and particular local requirements. Make accurate vaccine-related and Covid-19-related data publicly available in a transparent manner,” the paper said.

It asked the Centre also to implement political and administrative measures including a national level, all-party committee to review measures to contain the pandemic, to improve coordination with State governments, and to collaborate with civil society. “Decentralise decision-making, management of critical resources and transfer funds to the district level to organise essential health services, from primary to tertiary care, and address regional imbalances,” it said.

‘Help vulnerable people’

Gandhi, addressing a press conference, asked the Centre to spare no effort to start measures to contain or manage a possible third wave of the disease due to mutations of the virus. “Prepare for a possible third and future waves by heeding expert advice, scaling up testing significantly (especially in rural areas) and pooling human resources at the State and district levels,” the party demanded and said immediate help must be provided to all vulnerable people as direct transfer of cash and food supplies.

The white paper said Modi government should have acted with seriousness and urgency after the outbreak of the pandemic in other countries, learnt from their lessons and followed the testing at scale, tracing with diligence and treating with precision. “All international passengers should have been screened and quarantined them as necessary from January 2020, since the virus had already spread beyond China and Hong Kong by January 18, 2020,” the white paper noted.

Also read: PM should acknowledge his mistakes, seek expert help to rebuild India: Rahul Gandhi

 

Published on June 22, 2021

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