Coronavirus | Mallikarjun Kharge writes to Naidu, Modi, offers 6 suggestions

Kharge sent his set of six suggestions to tackle the crisis due to the pandemic and said the Prime Minister’s Office alone cannot handle it.

May 09, 2021 06:40 pm | Updated 10:22 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. File

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. File

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to immediately convene an all-party meeting to “collectively forge a holistic blueprint to tackle the COVID pandemic ”.

Accusing the Narendra Modi government of abdicating its responsibility towards the citizens, he said the situation requires “consensual and collective effort” and offered six specific suggestions.

 Mr. Kharge called for free immunisation for all citizens by utilising the ₹35,000-crore earmarked by Parliament for vaccination, waiving off taxes on life-saving medicines, expanding the scope of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to 200 days and expediting the distribution of relief material and pro-actively disclose where it is shipped.

In a separate letter to Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu, Mr. Kharge asked him to convene virtual meetings of the Parliamentary Standing Committees as Parliament cannot remain a “mute spectator”.

“At this hour of collective crisis, Parliament cannot be and must not be a mute spectator. It must give a message of solidarity with the people, of serious business to alleviate their agony and of unity of purpose. The meetings of the Standing Committees at this juncture will provide the nation much required collective initiative across the party lines. They are an effective instrument to ensure accountability, to provide institutional platform to all stakeholders and to collectively explore solutions. It is in this spirit that I urge you to allow the virtual meetings of the Standing Committees,” he wrote to Mr. Naidu. 

‘Shed its antipathy to expertise’

In his letter to Mr. Modi, he suggested that the government shed its antipathy to expertise. He said India boasts of some of the world’s best scientists, doctors, nurses and allied healthcare staff and has a vast network of community health workers.

“India undoubtedly has the bandwidth and the resources to effectively combat the pandemic. However, to do so, the Union government must leverage our collective strengths by governing consensually and inclusively. It is impossible to tackle a crisis of this magnitude through the Prime Minister’s Office alone,” he said.

“Experts have warned us that though the situation is dire, it can become far worse if leadership is not immediately exercised. So, for the well-being of our people and in the national interest, I urge you to consider the suggestions outlined in this letter sensitively and urgently.” 

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