Lockdown in place, ‘vindicated‘ Chidambaram tweets 10-point plan for PM

Updated on Mar 25, 2020 05:13 PM IST

Covid-19 lockdown: Chidambaram said ‘stay home India’ is a great rally cry but to stay at home people will need money and food.

Congress leader P Chidambaram has asked the government to transfer cash in bank accounts of the poor and farmers to help them during the 21-day lockdown(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
Congress leader P Chidambaram has asked the government to transfer cash in bank accounts of the poor and farmers to help them during the 21-day lockdown(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

P Chidambaram, the former finance minister who was among the first to advocate a nationwide lockdown to stop the coronavirus disease from spreading, on Wednesday tweeted a 10-point plan for the government to put money in the hands of the poor during the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Chidambaram had last week pitched the lockdown as one way to slow down the spread of Sars-CoV-2 pathogen that causes the coronavirus disease. That was hours before PM Modi appeared on national television last week to speak on the challenge ahead.

After PM Modi announced the 21-day lockdown, Chidambaram had responded with a short tweet on the emotions his speech evoked: “relief, vindication, frustration, disappointment, worry, fear etc”.

Watch | ‘Type of curfew’: PM Modi declares 21-day lockdown over COVID-19 l Full speech

 

The government’s critics have argued that PM Modi didn’t really spell out how the poor would be able to sustain themselves during the three more weeks that they will be out of work.

On Wednesday, Chidambaram pitched for a fresh start.

In a statement that he put out on Twitter - the veteran Congress leader also tweeted key points from his 10-point plan - Chidambaram described the nationwide lockdown as a “watershed moment” in the battle against Covid-19.

“We should put behind us the debates that took place before March 24 and look upon the nationwide lockdown as the beginning of a new battle in which the people are the foot soldiers and the PM is the commander. We owe a duty to extend our total support to the Prime Minister and the central and state governments,” Chidambaram, who has been one of the harshest critics of the government, said.

 

“Stay home India is a great rally cry, but to stay at home people will need money and food. We must think and plan not only for the next 21 days but for some weeks beyond the lockdown period,” Chidambaram said.

He also submitted his plan for the government’s consideration and “an immediate announcement of relief”.

Chidambaram’s package asks the government to double payments to farmers to Rs 12,000, cover tenant farmers as well under the PM scheme for farmers, give people enrolled in the rural employment guarantee scheme Rs 3,000, deposit Rs 6,000 in each Jan Dhan scheme, home deliver 10 kg rice or wheat to each ration card holder, require employers to pay salaries to all employees and reimburse the money to them.

People who still get left out of these schemes should be given Rs 3,000, extend deadlines for payment of all taxes to 30 June, defer monthly repayment of all loans to June-end and cut GST rates by 5 per cent on all wage goods, essential goods and services, and all goods of mass consumption for the next three months.

Chidambaram said the government could use Aadhaar to identify the beneficiaries and avoid a person getting it twice. But even if it does, the former finance minister said this should not be counted as a problem. He did not, however, spell out how this relief package should be financed or how much it would cost.

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