Sonia Gandhi meets CMs of Congress-led states, reviews Covid-19 crisis
A day after former Congress president Rahul Gandhi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting his concerns over the ‘snail paced’ vaccination drive and ‘vaccine starvation’ in the country, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi said that the Modi government had ‘mismanaged’ the Covid-19 situation.
Her remarks came at a virtually held meeting with Congress-ruled states on their ongoing efforts against the second wave of Covid-19. The meeting presided over by the Congress president was also attended by the ministers of Congress’s alliance states.
While speaking on the resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the country, Sonia Gandhi remarked that it was their responsibility as the principal opposition party to highlight the issues of vaccine unavailability in the country and push the government to desist from PR tactics and act in the interest of the people.
Demanding more transparency to be brought into the Covid statistics, the 74-year old leader said, “Governments must reveal the actual numbers of infections and deaths across states, whether Congress ruled or otherwise.”
Reiterating the earlier concern of Rahul Gandhi on the export of vaccines, she stressed that India’s foremost priority should be to vaccinate the Indian nationals first.
“We must focus on India’s vaccination drive first and foremost, then only export vaccines and gift them to other countries,” she said while advocating for responsible Covid appropriate behaviour.
Resolving to be constructive and cooperative with the Central government, Gandhi also asked the Congress-led states to take strict measures so that the pandemic does not go out of control.
She stressed upon the Chief Ministers of the Congress led states and the ministers in alliance led states to ensure testing on a large scale apart from preparation of adequate facilities along with setting up the temporary ones.
Holding the BJP government responsible for the mismanagement of the Covid-19 situation by allowing a shortage of vaccines in the country due to exports, she held that Congress has also been irresponsible to some extent by allowing mass gatherings for the elections.
“We need to accept this responsibility and keep the interest of the nation above our own,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi also added as the restrictions were becoming harder and more stringent, it was everyone’s responsibility to support those who face the brunt of reduced economic activity.
Watch | BJP counters Rahul Gandhi over 'vaccine shortage' claim, Congress fires back
Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi who was also a part of the meet had yesterday requested the Union government to lend a direct income support to the vulnerable sections of society in these difficult times due to the pandemic.
While assessing the vulnerability of public gatherings for the elections, she also questioned the Chief Ministers on the Covid-19 situations in their respective states.
“What are our states doing to ensure availability of oxygen, ventilators and other facilities as the pandemic grows?” she asked while inquiring about the availability of the vaccines, oxygen ventilators and other facilities in the Congress-led states.
Seeking the views of the Chief Ministers on the economic fallout, lockdown and the central government’s response to demands of states, Mrs Gandhi said, “Various packages had been announced by the Central government to help MSMEs and stimulate the economy. What impact have these packages had and what more should the Government be doing to deal with the continuing crisis? Do you see economic recovery happening in the manner that is being officially claimed?”
On the subject of the farmer agitation that has been going on for over five months, Gandhi asked the Chief Ministers to brief her about the latest situation in their respective states and also asked for their views on state bills passed against the farm laws which have failed to receive the presidential nod.
“What more should we do on it, even though the key to the solution lies with the Centre which has created the problem in the first place?” she inquired.
Rahul Gandhi who was also a part of the meet expressed his deep concern over the second wave of Covid-19 in the country. He asked for a strenuous approach to be put in to identify new mutations leading to the second wave and called for joining hands instead of being complacent and declaring premature victories over the virus.
He also reiterated the demand for basic income support for disadvantaged groups as they were attacked by the virus more harshly.
Chief Minister of Punjab Capt Amrinder Singh while pointing out the vaccine shortage in the country said that only a vaccine stock of three days was left with them and there was no assurance from the Centre about the further supply of vaccines yet.
Speaking about the rise in Covid-19 cases, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot said that the shortage of vaccines was a reality and the Union government should take states on board as stakeholders and not as their adversaries.
Jharkhand minister Rameshwar Oraon who was also attending the meeting enlisted a number of measures that should be undertaken to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, while Maharashtra minister Balasaheb Thorat said that there was an urgent need of almost 1200 ventilators and more Remdesivir injections in that state.
Thorat said that their state could vaccinate as many as 5 lakh people daily only if the Central government supplied them with the vaccine. “Our vaccinations centres will otherwise shut down,” he concluded.
Inputs by Umar Sofi