Congress asks Centre to give Rs 4 lakh to kin of Covid victims
The Congress on Wednesday launched a campaign to press the Narendra Modi government to pay Rs 4 lakh as compensation to the family of each Covid dead, asking why it cannot do so when it can spend thousands of crores on a new aircraft for the Prime Minister and give relief of lakhs of crores to top industrialists.
“The Congress has two demands: 1. Reveal the true Covid death numbers. 2. Give the families that have lost a loved one to Covid a compensation of Rs 4 lakh. If you are the government, you have to alleviate the people’s suffering. They should get the compensation,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Accompanying the tweet was a video of conversations with families of Covid victims in BJP-ruled Gujarat, in which they spoke of how they had struggled in vain to get medical help on time and had spent lakhs of rupees trying to save the lives of their loved ones.
The videos were filmed during the Nyay Yatra in which Congress workers went door to door to collect data on Covid deaths.
“The Gujarat government claims there were only 10,000 deaths. But we have gathered information about three lakh deaths in Gujarat. The Gujarat model is publicised all over. But whoever we talked to, they said they didn’t get hospital admission, oxygen or ventilator support on time. When the government was supposed to help people, it didn’t,” Rahul said.
“Now the government says there is no money for compensation. What kind of a government is this? They are giving Rs 50,000 each to 10,000 families. Families of all three lakh victims (in Gujarat) should get compensation,” the Congress leader added.
“Lakhs of people died all over India. The Congress demands that the families of all of them get Rs 4 lakh each. Top industrialists were given relief of lakhs of crores during Covid. The government wants to hand over the whole of India to two-three industrialists but the poor won’t get compensation.”
The Modi government had told the Supreme Court it could not pay Rs 4 lakh as Covid compensation in response to a petition seeking the sum assured to victims of disaster under the Disaster Management Act. Covid had been declared a disaster, the petition had argued. However, the Centre said it could only pay Rs 50,000 to each famliy.
In the video, Rahul said Prime Minister Modi had the resources to buy an aircraft worth Rs 8,500 crore for himself but his government says there is no money to pay compensation to the poor.
The Congress also referred to the Rs 20,000-crore Central Vista project, which the Centre has pressed ahead with despite the pandemic.
Rahul on Wednesday appealed to people to join the campaign for compensation by registering on www.4lakhdenahoga.com while promising the families of the Covid dead that the Congress would fight on till the objective had been achieved.
The Congress had collected details from the bereaved families during the Nyay Yatra, documenting the chain of events and recording videos.
Most people who spoke argued that Rs 50,000 was a pittance given that the families had spent lakhs on treatment and had to carry on with their lives after the death of their breadwinners.
The Gujarat Congress runs a website — www.wewillremember.in — on which people can create memorial profiles of Covid victims. The party has collected similar data in other states as well but the Gujarat exercise was the most methodical and elaborate.
The party plans to raise the Covid tragedy during the election campaigns in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, two-BJP ruled states that drew national attention for the sufferings of their people.
The morbid spectacle of bodies floating down the Ganga and dotting riverbeds in Uttar Pradesh had triggered outrage, and the Gujarat government had attracted repeated judicial rebuke for mismanaging the pandemic.