Home / India / At CWC meeting, Sonia slams Centre’s attitude towards issues related to Covid-19

At CWC meeting, Sonia slams Centre’s attitude towards issues related to Covid-19

‘Despite a year to prepare, we have, regrettably, been caught off guard again’
Sonia Gandhi during the Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday.
Sonia Gandhi during the Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday.
Twitter/ @ashokgehlott51

Our Bureau, Agencies   |   New Delhi   |   Published 17.04.21, 02:40 PM

Accusing the Modi government of "gross unpreparedness" and "adhocism" in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday made a slew of suggestions to the Centre to deal with the pandemic such as reducing the immunization age to 25 years and providing income support to people.

In her opening remarks, while chairing the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Gandhi also accused the Centre of giving preferential treatment to some states while maintaining "thundering silence" on requests of states ruled by the Congress and opposition parties.

The Congress has always believed that fighting the Covid-19 pandemic is a national challenge that should be kept above party politics, she asserted.

"We have extended our hands of cooperation right from February-March, 2020. We cannot, however, lose sight of the fact that the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the country with fury. Despite a year to prepare, we have, regrettably, been caught off guard again," Gandhi said.

Instead of listening to the constructive suggestions of the opposition, Union ministers are pressed into service to attack leaders of opposition for giving those suggestions, she said.

"This convoluted 'me versus you' debate is childish and totally unnecessary," Gandhi asserted.

Making a host of suggestions to the government, she said the Centre must also reconsider its priority for vaccine candidates by reducing the immunisation age to 25 years and above as also all younger persons with at-risk health disorders like asthma, angina, diabetes, kidney and liver diseases and other similar ailments.

"In the course of my talks with our chief ministers, the question of GST (Goods and Services Tax) came up. They felt that as a preliminary measure, all equipment, instruments, medicines and support required to prevent and treat Covid-19 should be made free from GST," Gandhi said.

It is a matter of grave concern that life saving drugs like Remdesivir and medical oxygen as also other basic supplements are subjected to 12 per cent GST, the Congress chief said.

"As the central and state governments move ahead to control the situation by resorting to partial curfews, travel restrictions, closure and lock downs; we will again be restricting economic activity that will hit the already beleaguered people, especially the poor and the daily wagers," she said.

It is, therefore, imperative to provide monthly income support and transfer an amount of Rs 6,000 in every eligible citizen's account, Gandhi said.

Taking on these challenging times as Indians rather than as political opponents will be true 'Rajadharma', she stressed.

The CWC meet was also attended by former party chief Rahul Gandhi, general secretaries, other permanent invitees and state in-charges of the party.


Addressing a press conference after the meet, Congress' senior spokesperson P Chidambaram said concrete suggestions made by CWC members would be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a letter by former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

"We charge the central government with colossal mismanagement of the war against the pandemic," a CWC statement said, accusing the central government of failing on 14 different fronts in handling the pandemic.

"We regret to say that the nation is paying a very heavy price for the thoughtlessness and unpreparedness of the NDA government to tackle the gravest disaster that has hit the country and has affected millions of families claiming 1,75,673 lives so far," the statement passed by the CWC said.

The working committee meeting, attended by Manmohan Singh and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, besides general secretaries and other senior leaders, said it is a shame that the country with the world's largest vaccine manufacturing capacity has earned the odium of being among the most affected countries in the world.

"With a heavy heart, we caution the people that unless urgent corrective measures are taken the nation faces an unprecedented catastrophe. May wisdom prevail," the CWC statement said.

Chidambaram said several Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi have made valuable suggestions on how to tackle the situation. All of them would be collated by tomorrow and sent to the central government.

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