New Delhi, May 7 (MNN) Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi’s on Friday castigated the Modi government and said that it had abdicated its responsibility even as the country was in the grip of a “deadly health disaster”.
She also demanded an all-party meeting as well as those of Standing Committees of Parliament on the pandemic issue.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi meanwhile dubbed the Central Vista project as a “criminal wastage”.
Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting, Sonia Gandhi said “We have gathered here under extraordinary circumstances. India is in the grip of a deadly health disaster. Thousands have died and millions are scrambling to access basic healthcare, life-saving medicines, oxygen, and vaccines.
“It is heartbreaking to see people battling for their lives in hospitals, on roads, waiting in vehicles, far too many for want of any medical help at all.
“And what is the Modi government doing? Instead of alleviating their suffering and pain, it has abdicated its fundamental responsibilities and duties towards the people, she remarked.
She pointed out that the government’s own Empowered Groups and National Task Force for COVID-19 had warned of that a second coronavirus wave was imminent in India and urged it to plan and prepare for the same.
“The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and opposition parties had raised serious concerns regarding our preparedness. Yet, earlier this year, the Prime Minister arrogantly boasted that he had defeated the pandemic and his party obediently felicitated him for his so-called success,” she said in her speech.
The Congress President alleged that the Modi government ignored expert advice and refused to strengthen the supply-chains for oxygen, medicine, and ventilators.
“It failed to place sufficient orders for vaccines in time to meet the needs of our people. Instead, it consciously chose to allocate thousands of crores for non-essential projects that have nothing to do with the peoples’ well-being.”
She also claimed that instead of helping desperate patients, some BJP governments in the states were using repressive power of the official machinery to arrest people merely for crying out for help.
“They are cracking down on citizen groups who are trying their best to help. They are also compelling social media platforms and the media to obfuscate the truth and ignore the pleas of desperate citizens.”
She recalled that Parliament had allocated Rs 35,000 crore in the Union Budget to ensure free vaccines for all. “Yet the Modi government has placed the burden on already stretched state governments,” she said.
She said that since the government had “failed to deliver essential services and supplies on an adequate scale”, it was imperative for the opposition party to enhance and streamline these efforts.
“The AICC’s COVID control room is reaching out with a detailed blueprint. Similar COVID relief control rooms have been set up at the state level. Efforts must be made to organise ambulances, temporary beds, oxygen concentrators and necessary medicines.”
She urged resourceful persons in the Congress to come forward and render whatever help possible through the states’ relief control rooms or on their own.
Sonia asserted that the Congress firmly believed that fighting Covid was “not a government versus us” battle but “us versus corona” battle.
“This battle transcends political differences. We have to fight this battle together as a nation. In that spirit, as a first step, I believe that the Modi government must urgently call an all-party meeting on the Covid-19 situation.
The Congress also demands that standing committees of Parliament must be convened to ensure collective action and accountability to combat the pandemic better.”
She also extended felicitations to Mamata Banerjee, MK Stalin and the Left for their victories in the Assembly election in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively.
She admitted that the Congress performance in all the states that went to polls was “very disappointing” and “unexpected”.
“The CWC will meet shortly to review the results but it goes without saying that we as a party collective must draw appropriate lessons from this setback in a spirit of humility and honesty,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Central Vista is criminal wastage. Put people’s lives at the centre — not your blind arrogance to get a new house!”
In another tweet, the Congress leader said: “Necessary to save the countrymen: Large scale vaccine; correct data and analysis of new corona strains; and Financial assistance to the weaker sections.
“Unfortunately, the central government has been proving that it will not be able to do them!”