Kharge writes to Venkaiah Naidu, Modi demanding meetings of House panels, parties

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 09, 2021

Mallikarjun Kharge   -  PTI

Congress leader said at this hour of collective crisis, the Parliament of India cannot be and must not be a mute spectator

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, in a letter, has asked the Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to convene meetings of the Standing Committees to discuss the pandemic situation. In another letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said an all party meeting should be convened on Covid management.

He told Naidu that people are in great distress and everyone should come together, work together and provide succour to fellow Indians.

Kharge said at this hour of collective crisis, the Parliament of India cannot be and must not be a mute spectator. “It must give a message of solidarity to the people, of serious business to alleviate their agony and of unity of purpose. It is in this spirit that I urge you to allow the virtual meetings of the Standing Committees,” he said in the letter.

The senior Congress leader said Department Related Standing Committees are an effective, non-partisan mechanism of Parliament. “The tradition of collective brain-storming in the committees is a cherished achievement of our parliamentary system. The meetings of the Standing Committees at this juncture will provide the nation the much required collective initiative across party lines. They are an effective instrument to ensure accountability, to provide institutional platform to all stakeholders and to collectively explore solutions,” he added.

In another letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge said it is heartbreaking to witness millions of ordinary Indians scrambling to access basic healthcare, oxygen, medicines, ventilators, hospital beds and even crematoriums and cemeteries. “Ordinary Indians are selling their land and jewellery and expending their savings to ensure treatment for their loved ones. And despite all this, people are dying in hospitals, on roads and in the safety of their own homes. Crematoriums and cemeteries are choked while parks are being repurposed as cremation grounds,” he said.

‘Convene all party meet’

Kharge urged Modi to convene an all party meeting to collectively forge a holistic blueprint to tackle the pandemic. “This would be a good opportunity for us to meaningfully reflect on, and implement the recommendations of experts and activists, whose advice has unfortunately been ignored so far,” he added.

He reminded the PM that Parliament had allocated ₹35,000 crore in the Budget to ensure free vaccines for all.

“Despite this, the union government has allowed private companies to set exorbitant and differential prices for vaccines, and outsourced the procurement of vaccines to already stretched State governments. This will adversely impact millions of Indians,” he added. He said the Centre must leverage the compulsory licensing provision and task India’s seven world-class public sector health institutes and other firms in the private sector to aid in vaccine manufacturing. He asked Modi to waive taxes on life saving products and reduce GST on vaccines and other Covid related medicines and equipment.

Published on May 09, 2021

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