Debate on Congress’ debacle in Assembly elections can wait, says Kapil Sibal


Results are a matter of concern but dealing with pandemic is a priority, says party G-23 member

The debate on the Congress’ debacle in the Assembly elections can wait as the country is faced with a national health emergency, a prominent member of the party’s group of 23 dissenters (G-23) said in an interview to The Hindu on Tuesday.

Complimenting the Supreme Court for its intervention in the corona management, Mr. Sibal said it should issue a continuing mandamus — a judicial writ — asking the government to update the Court at each stage on how it is tackling the pandemic.

The former Law Minister said while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ‘busy’ addressing election rallies across the country, the Election Commission (EC) seemed “least concerned” about what would happen to people at a time of a health emergency.

“Somebody should ask the Election Commission: Sir,on what basis did you have an eight-phase election process in West Bengal?” he said.

Suggesting that ramping up vaccination is one of the most effective ways to fight the pandemic, he said the Centre should declare vaccines as an essential commodity under the Essential Commodities Act. It would allow it to fix a uniform price for all purchases, be it by State governments or private hospitals.

Mr. Sibal, who was part of the G-23 that had asked for an organisational revamp in a letter to Sonia Gandhi last August, said the latest Assembly poll results were a matter of concern but dealing with the pandemic was a priority.

“Frankly, there will be a time when we should perhaps talk of these issues. We are all concerned about what happened in the States in which we hoped to to do well. But when the nation is facing a national health emergency, we should actually defer our conversation on this matter,” Mr. Sibal said.

Talking about the Supreme Court’s intervention right now to addressing some of COVID-19 related issues, he said, “It is asking the government to look at the issue of hospitalisation, the issue of pricing, the issue of essential drugs, the issues of who should procure, how it should be distributed, what are the protocols that have to be put in place… And I congratulate the court today for what it is doing. I think its doing a phenomenal service to the people of this country.”

Maintaining that he was somewhat disappointed in the way the Court had reacted to the first phase of COVID-19, Mr. Sibal said, “I think the Court should have a continuous mandamus here and ask the government what they are doing at each stage.”

Attacking Mr. Modi, the Congress leader said, “The blame squarely lies at the doorstep of the Union government. You have a Prime Minister who is more interested in campaigning while people are dying in hospitals, people can’t get oxygen or get themselves tested.”

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