‘Lockdown not an on-off switch’: Rahul Gandhi asks govt to spell out post-May 17 strategy
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Friday that the government needs to tell the people about its strategy to open up the country as well as the economy after the Covid-19 lockdown ends on May 17.
“The government now has to give a little bit of transparency on its actions. We need to understand, when they open, what is the criteria for that, what are the boxes they want ticked off before they actually start to open,” Gandhi said in a digital press briefing.
“The lockdown is not a key, that you switch it on and it’s gone. It requires number of things to happen. It requires a psychological change. The government needs to understand that it’s not an on-off switch,” he added.
The former Congress president also talked about the coronavirus disease Covid-19, which has triggered the nationwide lockdown. He said that barring a few categories of people, the disease is not dangerous.
“The disease is dangerious for a few categories of people. It is dangerous for old people, for those who have diabetes, hypertension etc. But other than that, it is not a dangerous disease. So we have to make a psychological change in the mind of the people. Currently, people are very scared. The government, if it wants to open up, will have to turn this fear into a sense of confidence,” said Gandhi.
He added that opening up has to be a transition. “You need to have a strategy.”
Gandhi has been holding discussions with public intellectuals through video conferencing where he has been talking about Covid-19 and what India needs to do going forward. Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee were his first two guests.
Two days ago, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had asked the central government to spell out its strategy whether it will lift or continue with the nationwide lockdown on May 17.
“What after May 17? What criteria is the government using to judge how long the lockdown will continue?” she had said in her opening remarks at a video-conferencing of party’s chief ministers and senior leaders.
Addressing the meeting, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “We need to know, as Soniaji said, what will happen after the lockdown 3.0? Soniaji has already pointed out. CM’s need to deliberate and ask as to what is the strategy of Govt of India to get the country out of lockdown?”
The party had recently announced that it will pay for the train travel of stranded migrant workers, a move that triggered a slugfest between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Opposition party accused the government of being insensitive to the plight of stranded migrant workers while the BJP claimed that railways was bearing 85% of the fare cost, and state governments had to pay 15%, thus allowing migrants to go back home free of cost.