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Chidambaram terms PM’s lockdown announcement a ‘watershed moment’

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram talking with his son Karti Chidambaram at Parliament on March 19, 2020.

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram talking with his son Karti Chidambaram at Parliament on March 19, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Appeals to people to be foot soldiers of Modi, whom he describes as ‘commander’ of the fight.

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Wednesday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nationwide lockdown announcement a “watershed moment” in the country’s fight against Coronavirus and appealed to people to be the foot soldiers of Mr. Modi, whom he described as the ‘commander’ of the fight.

The former Finance Minister also offered a 10-point cash transfer plan for people to deal with the economic crisis that has arisen owing to the lockdown.

“We should put behind us the debates that took place before March 24 and look upon the nationwide lockdown as the beginning of a new battle in which the people are the foot soldiers and the PM is the Commander. We owe a duty to extend our total support to the Prime Minister and the Central and State governments,” Mr. Chidambaram said in a two- page statement.

To put cash and food in the hands of people, he urged the government to double the amount paid/payable under PM-KISAN (to ₹12,000) and transfer the additional amount immediately to the bank account of each beneficiary.

“Bring tenant farmers under PM-KISAN. Take the lists from the State governments and transfer ₹6000 + ₹6000 (in two instalments) to the bank account of each tenant farmer. Take the lists of registered MGNREGA workers and transfer a sum of ₹3000 into the bank account of each beneficiary,” he said.

For the urban poor, he suggested that the government transfer ₹6,000 and offer 10 kg of rice or wheat free through public distribution shops to every ration cardholder.

“Open a register in every ward or block and invite persons who have not received payment under any of the categories listed above to register their name, address and Aadhaar. Street people and destitutes will fall under this category. After minimal verification, open a bank account in each name [if there is not already one], seed it with Aadhaar and transfer Rs. 3000 into each bank account,” he said.

Other suggestions included offering wage subsidy to all registered employers who pay their employees during the lockdown period, asking banks to defer payment of EMIs until June 30, extend the deadline to pay taxes until June 30 and cut down goods and services tax (GST) on essential commodities.

“Cut GST rates by 5 per cent on all wage goods, essential goods and services, and all goods of mass consumption for the period 1 April to 30 June 2020,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 6:41:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/chidambaram-terms-pms-lockdown-announcement-a-watershed-moment/article31161325.ece

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