‘A lot of talk, but no road map’: Congress on PM Modi’s Covid-19 address

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the PM in his address to the nation did not talk about the plight of stranded migrant workers and what the government plans to do for them, as most of them have completed their 14-day quarantine period.
Congress leader Manish Tewari asked PM Modi to spell out the steps his government plans to take to mitigate the woes of migrant labourers(HT Photo)
Congress leader Manish Tewari asked PM Modi to spell out the steps his government plans to take to mitigate the woes of migrant labourers(HT Photo)
Updated on Apr 14, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The Congress on Tuesday backed the extension of nationwide lockdown till May 3 to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak but asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to specify his government’s road map and strategy to fight the pandemic.

The opposition party also wanted the PM to spell out the steps his government plans to take to mitigate the woes of migrant labourers stranded on the borders of various states and those of the farmers waiting to harvest rabi crops.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the PM in his address to the nation did not talk about the plight of stranded migrant workers and what the government plans to do for them, as most of them have completed their 14-day quarantine period.

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“He also did not talk about ramping up mass testing in the country for Covid-19 and did not specify steps taken to increase the purchase of personal protection equipment (PPE) units,” Tewari said, addressing a news conference through video-conferencing.

There was no mention about ensuring maintenance of the supply chain of essential commodities and for the harvesting of rabi crops, he added.

“The PM told the nation what he expects out of the people but did not address their concerns or talk about what his government is doing for the country, something everybody wanted to hear.”

“What we have not heard from the PM is what is his government’s strategy regarding testing. Will it be limited to hotspots or will there be community-level screening as it has happened in Bhilwara?” Tewari asked.

“What the PM has not spoken about and made for most horrifying images when the lockdown was first implemented, is about the plight of migrant workers. They are in camps spread out across the country. Is there any plan to ensure that they go to their homes,” the Congress leader said.

“Essentially, if someone has gone through the mandatory quarantine period and is not showing any symptoms, is it not the government’s responsibility to facilitate their return. That’s what we wanted to hear. Are you allowing them to go back to their homes?” he questioned.

Tewari said that the Congress understands the inevitability of the lockdown and consequently supported its extension besides the Centre and all states have agreed on this.

“What is the government’s roadmap for harvesting? Are you going to allow the farmers to carry out the harvest? How will it then be collected and taken to procurement centres? How will procurement be facilitated? Will the government pay a bonus over the MSP (minimum support price)?” he asked.

Tewari said the PM also did not talk about the frontline workers battling the pandemic and the status of procurement of PPE units for them.

Earlier, party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala asked about the country’s roadmap to fight the pandemic.

He said the leadership does not mean making the people realise their responsibilities but to fulfill the government’s duty of accountability towards the country.

“A lot of talk has taken place. But, where is the roadmap to fight corona?,” Surjewala asked.

His senior party colleague P Chidambaram tweeted, “The poor have been left to fend for themselves for 21+19 days, including practically soliciting food. There is money, there is food, but the government will not release either money or food. Cry, my beloved country.”

Welcoming the lockdown extension, Chidambaram said the chief ministers’ demand for money elicited no response.

“Not a rupee has been added to the miserly package of March 25, 2020. From Raghuram Rajan to Jean Dreze, from Prabhat Patnaik to Abhijit Banerji, their advice has fallen on deaf ears,” the former finance minister said.

Another Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the PM’s address was like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.

“Amazing PM address. Exhortation, rhetoric, inspiration.....yet hollow on specifics! No financial package, no details, no concrete item. Neither for poor nor middle class nor industry nor businesses. Lockdown is good but cannot be an end in itself! Where is a single livelihood issue?” he tweeted.

Singhvi assured that all stakeholders will do their duties and will strictly observe the lockdown restrictions.

“After this: should we pray? We want concrete palliatives for these deprived classes and even for middle India and MSMEs,” he tweeted.

“PM address without single specific and without guidelines is like Hamlet without Prince of Denmark. Like PM without details! We want to increase GDP allocation; specific targeted monetary injections; Keynesian spending; loosen FMRB etc. not a single word!” he said.

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Friday, May 20, 2022