Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday targeted the Narendra Modi government over the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the lockdown has failed.
“It was his [Modi's] expectation that we’d defeat Covid-19 virus in 21 days. India is the only country where the virus (cases) is exponentially rising and we are lifting the lockdown. This means the aim and purpose of the lockdown have failed,” said Gandhi.
Gandhi made the comments while interacting with the press at a special Congress party briefing through videoconferencing. After giving a short statement, Gandhi took up questions related to Covid-19 and the migrants' crisis in the country.
Gandhi also spoke about the migrants’ crisis at length with the reporters.
“Migrants have been saying bharosa humara toot gaya (we’ve lost trust). I don’t like hearing those words. I don’t want a single Indian person to say those words,” Gandhi said about his conversations with migrants.
On May 16, Congress party had shared photos of Rahul Gandhi sitting on a sidewalk in south Delhi talking to migrants going back home on foot. In response, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had called Gandhi’s chat with the migrants a drama.
“When I talk to migrants and the poor, I do so to understand what is in their hearts. I benefit a lot from their knowledge. What the finance minister said was her opinion. If she wants, I can go to UP. I’ll walk on the road and help as many I can on the way,” said Gandhi.
Five days before the current phase of the lockdown ends, the Congress leader said that the four stages of the lockdown haven’t produced any result the Prime Minister expected.
“Now, that we have a failed lockdown, what is their strategy going forward? What are the precautions they’ll take? How are they going to support migrants, farmers, small and medium businesses,” Gandhi directed the questions to the government.
He said that while the Prime Minister claimed that the financial package was 10 per cent of the GDP, it is merely 1% in reality. Giving examples of Congress-ruled states, he said how these governments have taken the initiative to transfer cash directly in the hands of the poor, adding that the Centre hasn’t announced the same for the fear of losing international credit ratings.
Taking potshots at the Prime Minister, the Congress leader said Narendra Modi, who was “playing on a front foot initially, has now gone on the back foot.”
Gandhi claimed that Congress-ruled states have a strategy in place unlike the central government. He also said that the chief ministers of these states had asked him to say that states are hamstrung and the central government is not backing them up.
The chief ministers have asked me to say that they feel they are fighting a lonely battle, said Gandhi.
The former Congress president was one of the first top political leaders to warn about the coming Covid-19 crisis in February. “Tsunami is coming,” he warned then. In March, he had said that an “economic tsunami” is going to hit the country.
“I’m giving the same warning now. Telling the government to take economic action. Give cash injection. Protect small and medium businesses. Otherwise, we’ll face an economic crisis,” said Gandhi.