Centre’s lockdown strategy has failed: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that all the four stages of lockdown have ‘failed’ and claimed that India was the only country that was opening up when the Coronavirus infection was rising ‘exponentially’.

Also read: Coronavirus lockdown | Rahul Gandhi calls for a ‘nuanced approach’

Addressing an online press conference, he cautioned the government of ‘devastation and a second wave of infection if it opens up haphazardly’ and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spell out his government’s plan B.

He reiterated the party’s demand to go in for direct cash injection to help poor families, migrant labourers and small and medium businesses. Not doing so would be ‘fatal’ for the economy, he said.

“We are the only country in the world where the virus is rising exponentially and we are removing a lockdown. So, it is pretty clear that the aim and the purpose of the lockdown has failed,” he stated. The four-stage lockdown failed to produce the result that the Prime Minister had expected. He urged “Mr Modi to once again to come on the front foot instead being low key”.

“We want to ask the government what is their strategy as far as India's opening up is concerned and what are the precautions they are going to take to curb the disease now? How are they going to support the migrants, State governments and the small and medium businesses” he observed.

Mr. Gandhi said the Congress-ruled States were offering direct cash to farmers and labourers but they were not getting any support from the Centre and the Rs 20-lakh crore package was actually merely ‘one per cent of India’s GDP’.

“The Central government must infuse cash into the hands of people and it will be fatal if they do not do it. A dangerous situation will arise if financial support to people and industry is not provided”, he stated.

Asked if India made a mistake by prioritising health over livelihood issues, he said, “I don’t think it is either health or economics. We are smart enough to work a path through that will create a successful compromise between health and economics”.

COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra

Asked about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, where the Congress is a partner in the government, he said a State that had multiple connectivity was likely to see a high growth rate in COVID-19 cases.

“We are supporting the Maharashtra government but we are not a key decision-maker here. There is a difference between running a government and supporting a government... Maharashtra is one of the most important assets that India has; it is the centre of business. It needs full support from the Government of India, as it is fighting a very difficult battle,” he said.

On a reported comment by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that other States would now have to seek his government’s permission if they wanted to employ labour from U.P., he said, “These people are not his personal property or the property of U.P. They are Indian citizens and have a right to decide what they want to do”.

Responding to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s comment that his interaction with migrant workers was dramabaazi (theatrics), Mr. Gandhi said,“That’s her view...If they allow me, I can walk down to U.P. and help migrants on the way”.

On border tensions with China and Nepal, he urged the Union government to be transparent on what is happening in Ladakh and Nepal but refrained from commenting.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:47:10 PM |

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