‘Lockdown will devastate poor and weak’: Rahul Gandhi on Covid-19 crisis

Updated on Mar 27, 2020 10:24 PM IST

The Congress, on its official twitter handle, criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, alleging it had imposed lockdown without proper planning and is also unable to control the reverse migration.

The Congress also alleged that the government wasted time in preparation when the first alarm was raised by Rahul Gandhi as early as on February 12.(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
The Congress also alleged that the government wasted time in preparation when the first alarm was raised by Rahul Gandhi as early as on February 12.(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday claimed that the 21-day lockdown will devastate the poor and weak even as he sought a compassionate approach to deal with the crisis amid reports of alleged police atrocities on those violating the restrictions.

“The lockdown will devastate our poor and weak. It will deliver a heavy blow to the India we love. India isn’t black and white. Our decisions have to be carefully thought through. A more nuanced and compassionate approach is required to deal with this crisis. It’s still not too late,” Gandhi tweeted.

The Congress, on its official twitter handle, criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, alleging it had imposed lockdown without proper planning and is also unable to control the reverse migration.

The remarks come in the wake of reports that hundreds of people stranded in cities have been forced to take a long walk home without food and shelter due to the government lockdown.

“BJP’s lack of planning has rendered tens of thousands of people hungry and homeless. The government should have come out with a targeted plan to help them before implementing nationwide lockdown,” it said.

“Suspended transport, disrupted supply chains, misinformation to the police and active racism, such is the outcome of a #LockdownWithoutPlan,” the party said in another tweet.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill tweeted: “If Air India can be deployed, rightly, to evacuate Indians stranded abroad why can’t the government deploy special buses/planes to rescue daily wagers who are now walking a distance of 250-300kms to reach home? Govt must ensure safe relocation-48 crore work force needs help #COVID-19.”

The Congress also alleged that the government wasted time in preparation when the first alarm was raised by Rahul Gandhi as early as on February 12.

Rahul Gandhi also wrote a letter to union human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank to seek safety of students of Nainital’s Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya who are currently staying in hostels there.

“In light of the national lockdown, a significant number of students staying in hostels and other residential facilities of schools and institutions of higher education have been unable to go home. I have received several requests from parents to ensure the well-being of their children staying in residential facilities,” he wrote.

Rahul Gandhi said 20 students from his Lok Sabha constituency Wayanad are studying in Nainital’s Navodaya Vidyalaya.

“I have spoken to the Principal and was reassured that all measures for their well-being are being taken. Adequate precautionary measures should be adopted, and institutions must ensure proper access to medical facilities,” he said.

His mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi also pledged all her MPLAD funds for combating coronavirus in her Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli.

In a letter to the Rae Bareli district magistrate, she authorised him to draw as much funds required in dealing with the situation and provide sanitizers, masks and medicines to the people of her constituency.

“I appeal to the district administration to distribute masks and sanitizers to the people and give extra care to daily wagers and the elderly,” she wrote.

Her daughter and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also sent a letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, reaffirming her party’s support to the government in fighting the pandemic.

In her three-page letter, she said the government should provide relief to labourers, vendors, destitute, widows and others who have been deeply affected by the lockdown.

Priyanka Gandhi also requested the state government to ensure that labourers who are coming to Uttar Pradesh as reverse migration should be given facilities to reach their homes safely.

She also urged the government to start a helpline for displaced labourers so that they can contact the officials concerned.

On Thursday, the Congress asked its workers to make food and medicines available to the people facing difficulties. The party also urged its Members of Parliament (MPs) to make sincere initiatives and contribute from their MPLAD funds in constituencies to equip hospitals as well as health centres to address the current crisis.

In a letter to all MPs and state unit chiefs, Congress general secretary in-charge of organization KC Venugopal said legislators in different states should take similar initiatives in their respective assemblies.

He also asked the state units to ensure the benefits of welfare schemes from both the Centre and state governments reach the people in need.

“In this critical time, it is incumbent upon us to ensure the availability of food and medicines to the people who will face difficulties during the lockdown. Urgent measures are needed to distribute food and medicine kits to the deprived people on behalf of our party,” he said.

Venugopal said distribution of food kits should be done adhering to the social distance protocols as demanded by health experts and huge gatherings should be avoided at any cost.

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