Opposition parties on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “indulging in symbolism” when the need of the hour was to announce relief measures for the people. The nation has been suffering the economic fallout of the 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
On Friday morning, the Prime Minister urged the people to switch off their lights and hold candles, lamps and mobile flashlights at 9 pm on Sunday (April 5) for nine minutes in a nationwide show of solidarity to fight the darkness from the coronavirus.
Opposition leaders said it was curious to see the PM resorting to symbolism when other heads of governments are routinely sharing key details on the efforts to contain spread of the virus and economic measures to provide relief to the people.
Addressed to the PM, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted, “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. What we expected from you today was financial action plan II, a generous livelihood support package for the poor, including for those categories of the poor who were totally ignored by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman” in the financial action plan announced on March 25.”
“Every working man and woman, from business person to daily wage earner, also expected you to announce steps to arrest the economic slide and re-start the engines of economic growth. The people are disappointed on both counts. Symbolism is important, but serious thought to ideas and measures is equally important,” Chidambaram, who has estimated that the country needs infusion of at least Rs 5 to 6 trillion to fight Covid-19, said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury said the problems facing the country cannot be overcome by symbolism. “Agriculture and farming has collapsed due to lack of planning by the Centre. The agriculture ministry’s own data shows that daily arrivals at various wholesale markets after the lockdown have fallen by up to 70 per cent,” he said.
Yechury said milk procurement has crashed. “No distraction will help. This has been flagged by the state governments, opposition and others. All evidence points to a lackadaisical approach by the Centre, leading to delay in procuring adequate equipment to protect health care workers. Any accountability?” he said.