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Opposition leaders express disappointment over PM’s message

Former finance minister P. Chidambaram.

Former finance minister P. Chidambaram.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Just a feel-good moment curated by India’s Photo-Op Prime Minister, tweets Congress leader Shashi Tharoor

Opposition leaders on Friday expressed disappointment over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's latest video message asking citizens to light up lamps in their homes on Sunday, with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor calling him a 'showman and a Photo-Op Prime Minister'.

"Listened to the Pradhan Showman. Nothing about how to ease people’s pain, their burdens, their financial anxieties. No vision of the future or sharing the issues he is weighing in deciding about the post-lockdown. Just a feel-good moment curated by India’s Photo-Op PrimeMinister!" tweeted Mr. Tharoor soon after Mr. Modi's video message.

In a series of tweets, former Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram questioned why the government had not announced a second Financial Action Plan even after the lockdown entered its 10th day.

He said every working professional — from a business person to a daily wage earner — expected Mr. Modi to announce steps to arrest the economic slide and re-start the engines of economic growth.

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"Dear Prime Minister, We will listen to you and light diyas on April 5. But, in return, please listen to us and to the wise counsel of epidemiologists and economists ... Symbolism is important, but serious thought to ideas and measures is equally important," he said.

CPI General Secretary D. Raja said that people expected the Prime Minister to come out with substantial measures to guard them against COVID-19 as well safeguard the economic interests of  migrant workers and daily wage earners.

"He could have announced full ration for the migrant workers or wages to MGNREGA workers," said Mr. Raja, adding: "Mr. Modi could have also considered the financial assistance sought by the Chief Ministers to deal with this health emergency.”

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury didn't directly comment on Mr. Modi's call to light lamps, but targeted his government over inadequate health infrastructure in rural India.

Also read: A long road: On India’s 21-day coronavirus lockdown

"When public money is wasted on vanity projects like statues, bullet trains, PR campaigns & personality-promotion, no surprise that health infrastructure has further crumbled under this govt. Its priorities over past 6 years have been laid bare by the #COVID19 crisis. Poor will suffer as more distractions are mounted. Rectify immediately," Mr. Yechury said on Twitter.

The Congress, at its official online media briefing, also claimed that the supply chain for transporting essential commodities has nearly collapsed and prices have skyrocketed in the past 10 days.

"Of the 12 million kirana [grocery] stores of the country, only 2.5 million are open. The rest are shut because of disruption of supplies of essential commodities. The Centre’s intervention is a must," said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera.

"The tomato, which is available in the mandi at ₹18 per kg has become ₹50 to ₹60 per kg for the consumer. Likewise, the potato, which is available in the mandi at ₹16 per kg has become ₹50 per kg for the consumer," he added.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 4:35:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pms-message-symbolism-is-important-but-serious-thought-to-ideas-and-measures-is-equally-important-says-chidambaram/article31244429.ece

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