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Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Congress seeks plan, answers from Narendra Modi

Clear the 'bottleneck' hampering aggressive testing: Rahul Gandhi

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 26.04.20, 11:02 PM
“The Prime Minister should reveal how the 36 days of the lockdown were used in preparing a plan to deal with the medical, economic and humanitarian aspects of the crisis,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

“The Prime Minister should reveal how the 36 days of the lockdown were used in preparing a plan to deal with the medical, economic and humanitarian aspects of the crisis,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said. (Picture courtesy: Twitter/@ManishTewari)

The Congress on Sunday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a concrete plan for the future instead of offering homilies when he interacts with the chief ministers on Monday amid expectations that the lockdown would be lifted after May 3.

“The Prime Minister should reveal how the 36 days of the lockdown were used in preparing a plan to deal with the medical, economic and humanitarian aspects of the crisis,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

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“Instead of offering homilies, he should tell the chief ministers about testing, PPE, health infrastructure, migrant workers and economic revival.”

Sunday was the 33rd day of the 40-day nationwide lockdown.

Arguing that India can’t have ad-hoc decision-making in perpetuity, Tewari said: “The declaration of a ‘National Plan’ to deal with the crisis is a statutory requirement. As Kapil Sibal said yesterday, the National Disaster Management Act envisages a plan.

“Unless the Centre makes that plan, the state and the districts cannot have their plans as per the law. The Prime Minister should also explain why the plan has not been made so far.”

Tewari added: “The government said in Parliament that it had been in talks with the World Health Organisation since January 8 on the coronavirus issue. We can understand that the government did not understand the severity of the crisis initially, but now enough time has passed to prepare for the challenges.

“The coronavirus is not going to disappear on May 3. The Prime Minister must put in the public domain a National Plan as we exit the lockdown.”

Rahul Gandhi asked the Prime Minister to clear the “bottleneck” hampering aggressive testing, without explaining what he was hinting at.

“Experts agree that mass random testing is the key to beating corona. In India, a bottleneck is stopping us from scaling testing from the current 40,000 per day to one lakh tests a day, for which test kits are already in stock. PM needs to act fast & clear the bottleneck,” Rahul tweeted.

Explaining the point, Tewari said: “Global wisdom (suggests) that you cannot fight the virus without aggressive testing. We have so far tested only 5.7 lakh persons, which is far below the global average and even lower than some of our neighbours.

“We have credible information that we can do one lakh tests every day. Why is testing every day capped at 39,000? Is there an attempt to play down the magnitude of the crisis or is the government wary of the implications?”

Tewari added: “Is it that the government is not testing one lakh persons a day because it does not have the capacity to deal with the implications? We are not getting answers to critical questions.

“How were the 36 days of the lockdown utilised? How many testing kits were imported, how many manufactured? How have these kits been distributed among the states? What is the case with PPEs; what about ventilators? The Prime Minister must answer these questions.”

Tewari highlighted the plight of the migrant workers, arguing that no country leaves millions of its poor to walk hundreds of kilometres without food and water.

“This is the most unfortunate human tragedy. There are around 1.5 crore workers who are stranded and want to go home. They too have a right to go home. The Prime Minister should tell the nation whether the government is planning to send them back and why this was not handled properly,” he said.

Tewari highlighted a claim by Niti Aayog member V.K. Paul, who heads the government’s empowered committee on medical management of the crisis.

“The person who is leading the fight against corona is of the view that there won’t be any new case of infection after May 16. Does the government endorse his view? What is the basis of this assessment? We request the government to substantiate this stance.”

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