Political parties lend a helping hand amid Covid-19 crisis
On Monday evening, at least 200,000 Congress workers across India got an SMS from the party leader Rahul Gandhi. Abandon all political work and help people, they were told amid the surge in Covid-19 cases that has overwhelmed hospitals and triggered a shortage of essential supplies such as medical oxygen.
Congress, the principal opposition party, wants to raise an army of Covid Sevaks, or those eager to reach out and help distressed families, amid the pandemic.
“During this Corona crisis, I request my Congress colleagues that all political work should be abandoned. Just help the people, by all means remove the misery of the countrymen. This is the religion of the Congress family,” said Gandhi in his message to party workers, accessed by HT, delivered through the Congress’s app.
The aim, a Congress leader said, is to create a dedicated force in every block and every district. On the first day, 27,000 workers registered themselves for this voluntary work in these challenging times.
Other political parties are also trying to extend their helping hand at the grassroots level, widening their role in India’s worst health crisis ever. The pandemic has left more than 195,000 dead and 17.3 million infected.
Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s youth wing, has also been working to provide hospital beds, medicines and oxygen cylinders. It is setting up camps for blood plasma donation from those who have recovered from Covid-19. On Monday, Tejasvi Surya, BJP lawmaker and the Morcha chief, tweeted about his work at Mahabodhi Hospital in Bengaluru and instructions to set up 100 plus beds and 10 ventilators.
“During the first [Covid-19] wave, our focus was on providing food and transportation to migrants, the second wave requires more medical attention,” said Neha Joshi, the national media co-in charge of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
Tens of thousands of migrant workers were forced to walk or cycle back to their homes after the lockdown imposed last year to check the pandemic spread left them jobless. Later, special buses and trains were run for them.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), too, has set up helplines and formed relief committees in West Bengal, Kerala and some other states to help the distressed people.
The Congress Youth’s wing, Indian Youth Congress (IYC), was the first to launch a structured assistance programme. “We have been working in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh providing immediate help to any patient who requires an oxygen cylinder or a hospital bed,” said Srinivas BV, the IYC president.