New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Amid the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday hit out at the centre and said it has “mismanaged the situation”, exported vaccine and allowed a shortage to be created in India.
She also stressed on transparency in the Congress and opposition ruled states to reveal the actual numbers of infections and deaths and focus on India’s vaccination drive.
Her remarks came during a meeting of Congress ruled states and party’s ministers from alliance states to review the efforts to fight Covid-19 including availability of vaccines, access to medicines and ventilators. Former party chief Rahul Gandhi also attended the meet.
Sonia Gandhi said, “Covid is surging and as the principal opposition party, it is our responsibility to raise issues and push the government to move away from PR tactics and act in the interest of the people.”
India on Saturday recorded over 1.45 lakh fresh Covid cases and 794 deaths in the last 24 hours. Several states have red flagged the government over the shortage of the Covid-19 vaccines.
“Therefore, there must be transparency – governments must reveal the actual numbers of infections and deaths across states, whether Congress ruled or otherwise,” she said.
Highlighting the lack of Covid vaccines in several states, the Congress leader said, “We must focus on India’s vaccination drive first and foremost. Then only export vaccines and gift them to other countries. We must stress on responsible behaviour – adhering to all laws and Covid regulations without exception.”
She also emphasised on the cooperation with states respecting federalism and in turn, “for us to be constructive and cooperate with the government in its efforts to fight the pandemic is equally important”. We are all united in this fight, she said.
“The Modi government has mismanaged the situation – exported vaccine and allowed a shortage to be created in India,” Sonia said.
Pointing out at the mass gatherings during the assembly polls in states of Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and Union Territory of Puducherry, Sonia Gandhi said, “Mass gatherings for elections and religious events have accelerated Covid for which all of us are responsible to some extent. We need to accept this responsibility and keep the interest of the nation above our own.”
She directed the Congress ruled states’ chief ministers to take strict measures to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t go out of control and ensure testing at large scale, preparation of adequate facilities, setting up temporary ones.
“We must make all efforts to support those who face the brunt of reduced economic activity as the restrictions become harder and more stringent,” she said.
She also asked the state governments if there is enough vaccine available, has the central government been cooperative, what are our states doing to ensure availability of the oxygen, ventilators and other facilities as the pandemic grows, what are your view of lockdown, what about the economic fallout, how bad is the situation in your states, should not public gatherings including election rallies be cancelled?
She also asked the Congress ruled and Congress alliance ruled states about the various packages that had been announced by the central government to help MSMEs and stimulate the economy.
She said, “What impact have these packages had and what more should the government be doing to deal with the continuing crisis? Do you see economic recovery happening in the manner that is being officially claimed?”
Discussing the farmers protest, which have been going on since November last year, Sonia Gandhi said, “As per our discussion on Covid, I would like to be briefed on the latest situation regarding the agitation of farmers that has been going on now for well over five months.”
She said that the Congress-ruled states have passed their own laws but these have not received Presidential assent.
“What more should we do even though the keys to the solution lies with the Centre which has created the problem in the first place,” she added.
On Friday, Rahul Gandhi had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to place an immediate moratorium on the export of vaccines, fast track approval of other vaccines and open up vaccination to everyone who needs it.