NEW DELHI – The opposition meet convened by Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi has begun to take stock on the Covid-19 situation and the migrant crisis.
Sonia Gandhi in her opening remarks said that spirit of federalism has been forgotten. “The government has also abandoned any pretence of being a democratic government. All power is now concentrated in one office, the PMO. The spirit of federalism which is an integral part of our Constitution is all but forgotten. There is no indication either if the two Houses of Parliament or the Standing Committees will be summoned to meet. ”
She said the opposition offered full support to the government. Even when the lockdown was imposed on March 24, with barely 4 hours’ notice, everyone supported the decision despite its suddenness and obvious unpreparedness of the government.
“The initial optimism of the Prime Minister that the war against the virus would conclude in 21 days has turned out to be misplaced,” said Sonia Gandhi.
She said it seems that the virus is here to stay until a vaccine is found and government was uncertain about the criteria for lockdown nor does it have an exit strategy. Successive lockdowns have yielded diminishing returns.
The government also stumbled badly on the testing strategy and the import of test kits. Meanwhile, the pandemic continues to take its toll. The economy has been gravely crippled. Every economist of repute had advised an immediate need for a massive fiscal stimulus, she said.
She said the Prime Minister’s announcement on May 12 of a grand Rs 20 lakh crore package — and the Finance Minister spelling out its details over the next five days, have turned out to be a cruel joke on the country.
The defining image of the pandemic has been the lakhs of migrant workers, many with children, walking hundreds of kilometres, without money, food or medicines, desperate to reach their home states.
The interim president of the Congress said that government should give cash transfers to vulnerable.
“Meeting of the 22 likeminded parties begins virtually to dicuss Covid-19 and economic pandemic. Meeting condoles the deaths caused by Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal and Orissa,” tweeted Randeep Surjewala chief spokesperson of Congress.