Coronavirus outbreak | Rahul Gandhi calls for two-pronged strategy

‘Expand testing, give financial aid to prevent job losses and reassure businesses’

March 25, 2020 10:49 pm | Updated 10:58 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Rahul Gandhi. Photo: File

Rahul Gandhi. Photo: File

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday suggested a two-pronged strategy to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, while his party demanded the implementation of the minimum income guarantee scheme for the poor.

“The question is how can we minimise casualties in this war. I believe our strategy should have 2 components. The govt should give financial support to prevent massive job losses and reassure business owners,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.

“Isolate the virus and block its escape routes. Massively expand testing facilities to identify and treat those who are infected. Create massive emergency field hospitals, particularly in urban areas, with full ICU capability to provide care to patients,” said the Congress leader who had raised an alarm about COVID-19 as early as February 12. Mr. Gandhi said the daily wage earners must be extended immediate help through direct cash transfers and free rations. “Delaying this will cause widespread devastation & chaos,” he said.

Tax breaks

He said many industries were struggling and they should be helped through tax breaks and financial support to prevent massive job losses, and the government must reassure business owners of all support to tide over the crisis.

The Congress urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement the Nyunatam Aay Yojana (Nyay) or the minimum income guarantee scheme it had promised in its 2019 election manifesto. The Nyay had promised to transfer ₹72,000 annually to the 20% of the poorest families in the country.

“Dear PM, need of the hour is to implement forthwith Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme (Nyay), mooted by Rahulji & Congress. Please transfer Rs 7,500 to every Jan Dhan A/C, PM Kisan A/C & every Pension A/C to tide over nutrition needs of 21 days and give free PDS ration,” tweeted Congress communication chief Randeep Singh Surjewala.

‘Lacks strategy’

In a series of tweets, Mr. Surjewala said that though the party supported the lockdown, it is “deeply disappointed” by a lack of a coherent strategy on the part of the Modi government.

“Please remember, Trying times are true test of leadership. Is government ready to rise up & deliver,” he asked and added, “The Congress demands a comprehensive package for daily wagers, MGNREGA workers, factory workers, unorganised workers, fishermen and farm labourers.”

The Congress also objected to the fact that the Central government barred the export of ventilators, respiratory devices and sanitisers only on March 24, 84 days after the spread of COVID-19. “Is this your government’s modus operandi to fight coronavirus? Too little, too late,” said Mr. Surjewala.

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