"We have looked at COVID-19 for two months since February and have spoken to experts. No country in the world has attempted a lockdown with huge migrant labour without arranging for their stay, food and ration and pushing them back home," he said.
There is an urgent need for an India-specific strategy to combat the coronavirus outbreak, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday, and asserted that the country must prepare for “economic devastation”. The remarks came at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, where besides him, party chief Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior leaders discussed the health crisis through video-conferencing.
“At the Congress CWC meeting today, I emphasised the urgent need to devise an India specific strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and for Congress workers and leaders to help soften the blow by assisting the poor and the most vulnerable sections of our society in every possible way,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted after the meeting.
At the Congress CWC meeting today I emphasised the urgent need to devise an India specific strategy to combat the #COVID19Pandemic & for Congress workers & leaders to help soften the blow by assisting the poor & the most vulnerable sections of our society in every possible way.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 2, 2020
COVID-19 particularly attacks aged persons, people with lung disease, diabetics, persons with heart diseases, making them the most vulnerable, the former Congress chief was quoted as saying at the meeting by the party’s chief spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala.
“All state governments need to issue special advisory for these categories and take care,” Rahul Gandhi said at the meeting. “We have looked at COVID-19 for two months since February and have spoken to experts. No country in the world has attempted a lockdown with huge migrant labour without arranging for their stay, food and ration and pushing them back home,” he said in an apparent attack on the government.
Rahul Gandhi called on the party to act as a watchdog and ensure that the most vulnerable and the poor are protected comprehensively. “India has to fight COVID-19 with an India-specific strategy and consultation. India needs to prepare for the economic devastation,” he was quoted as saying.
Gandhi asked Congress workers to help the people, soften the blow and assist in every manner possible. “Also, let’s take the message that we need to take special care of our senior citizens and elders,” he added.
Addressing the CWC, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra claimed that Uttar Pradesh had faced the maximum brunt of the migrant workers’ exodus. “People are now being quarantined in inhuman conditions and sprayed with insecticides,” she alleged, adding that instead of supporting those returning home, the police and the administration in UP were “beating and roughing them up”. “Our workers have assisted the labour with food and medicines,” Priyanka Gandhi said. Testing for COVID-19 remains the key to prevent it, she said.
Priyanka Gandhi further said that school fee was a major challenge for parents today and should be considered.
Besides Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka, party chief ministers — Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Amarinder Singh (Punjab) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry) — Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and senior party leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and A K Antony also addressed the CWC meet.