Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi today castigated the Centre for not taking the opposition parties into confidence even when the nation was facing an unprecedented health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Emphasising that this was a moment for the entire nation to stand together, she hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for allegedly ridiculing even his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh’s earnest recommendations.
Targeting PM Modi himself in an interview with ANI, she said he must now stop his “public relations exercise” and talk to the people and opposition parties over the crisis. The Congress General Secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh claimed the Centre was willing to talk to even Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, but not Opposition leaders.
“Today I do not think that there is any opposition leader who is not giving constructive and positive suggestions. And all the political parties are saying that we are with you (Centre),” she said.
“Manmohan Singh ji was Prime Minister for 10 years. Everyone knows how dignified a person he is. If he is giving suggestions…then suggestions should be taken up with the same dignity with which they were offered,” she said, asking that if opposition leaders do not raise their voice, who will.
The government is wasting time engaging in pettiness, making a minister respond to a letter addressed by a former Prime Minister, Ms Gandhi told PTI.
Her comments come days after Dr Singh on Sunday wrote to PM Modi asking his government to “resist the temptation to look at the absolute number of vaccinations and focus on the percentage of the population vaccinated”.
He also listed some suggestions “in a spirit of constructive cooperation”, but was rebutted by Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan who said history shall be kinder to Dr Singh if Congress members themselves followed his advice.
The former Prime Minister had written the letter in the context of the second Covid wave sweeping India. Nearly three lakh new cases and over 2,000 deaths were reported today, a record-high since the pandemic broke last year.
Ms Gandhi said the export of six crore vaccines between January and March 2021 was a huge public relations exercise and during this same period, Indian citizens received only three to four crore doses, PTI reported.
“Why didn’t the government prioritise Indians first? Why did the prime minister place self-promotion above the nation? In a state like UP with a 22 crore population, only 1 crore doses have been administered,” she said, adding that now the Prime Minister and Union Ministers are blaming state governments for increased oxygen consumption.
“They see precious human life in terms of demand and supply. But then what can one expect from a government led by a Prime Minister who is continuing to hold public rallies,” she said criticising the ruling BJP for its continued election campaign in West Bengal despite a spike in COVID-19 numbers.
“Even today they’re busy with campaigning. They are laughing from the stages (at rallies). People are crying, screaming for help, seeking oxygen, beds, medicines, and you’re going to huge rallies and laughing! How can you?” she asked.
The BJP, however, hit back at the Congress leader saying she was politicising the matter.
“We didn’t want these matters to be politicisied. The country is battling the pandemic and its second wave. Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday even addressed the nation…but sadly when there ought to be no politics, the Congress party and especially the Gandhi family, is indulging in plenty of politics,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told ANI.
“Priyanka Gandhi has given an interview and Rahul Gandhi has also tweeted. The Nation is watching them and the nation will reply. The Gandhi family’s arrogance is pouring forth before the nation amid this crisis.”