Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi on Covid-19 crisis, flags 3 issues
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a slew of requests to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control in the country, which has been witnessing a second wave.
Gandhi urged Prime Minister Modi to allow the emergency use of those Covid-19 vaccine candidates, which have the required clearance. She also underscored the need for a vaccine prioritisation strategy for effective results in the fight against the virus.
"While it will be necessary on one hand to substantially ramp up our domestic production capacity, it will also be prudent to allow emergency use authorization of all the vaccine candidates that have the required clearances, without any further delay,” Gandhi said and added that vaccines are our foremost hope as she also pointed that most of the states are left with stock for just three to five days.
Gandhi's letter comes two days after she held a meeting with heads of Congress-ruled states and leaders from alliance states to review the efforts to fight Covid-19 including the availability of vaccines, access to medicines and ventilators. In that meeting last Saturday, Congress-ruled Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh said that they had a limited supply of Covid-19 vaccines and urged the Centre to ramp up the supply.
Shortly after that meeting, Gandhi slammed the Centre for "mismanaging" the Covid-19 situation and creating a vaccine shortage in the country by exporting it, as she called for cancelling all public gatherings and poll rallies in view of the rising number of coronavirus cases.
Gandhi also urged PM Modi to allow the vaccination of people based on need instead of age as is being done right now. "Accordingly, with enhanced availability, categories eligible for vaccination should be expanded on the basis of need and exposure rather than just age. In the same vein, the numbers allocated to a state has to be based on the prevalence and projection of infection in that particular state,” she said in her letter on Monday.
The Congress leader pointed out that the medical infrastructure required to combat the viral contagion needs to be exempted from Goods and Services Tax (GST), in order to make them less expensive.
"All equipment, instruments, medicines and support infrastructure required to deal with the Covid-19 crisis should be made completely exempt from GST. Even ventilators, oxymeters and oxygen cylinders presently attract GST as do key life-saving drugs like Remdesivir and Dexamethazone," Gandhi wrote in her letter.
Urging the PM to put in place a minimum monthly guaranteed income scheme, Gandhi sought an economic relief plan in which the government can transfer ₹6000 into every eligible citizen's account.
She highlighted that restricting economic activity will have a drastic impact on migrant labourers and poor people. "As we move ahead to control the situation by resorting to curfews, travel restrictions, closures and lockdowns, we will again be restricting economic activity that will hit the already beleaguered people - especially the poor and the daily wagers very, very hard," the letter read.
In her previous rebuke of the Centre, Gandhi alleged that the Modi government has mismanaged the Covid situation. "It has exported the vaccines and allowed a shortage to be created in India," the Congress chief had said at the meeting.
"Mass gatherings for elections and religious events have accelerated Covid-19 for which all of us are responsible to some extent. We need to accept this responsibility and keep the interest of the nation above our own," Sonia Gandhi said.
India on Monday registered 168,912 new Covid-19 cases, the highest single-day rise so far, taking the tally to 13,527,717, according to the Union ministry of health and family welfare. The national recovery rate has fallen below 90 per cent, data showed.