New Delhi, The Congress Working Committee (CWC) in a statement has said that the nation is paying a very heavy price for the thoughtlessness and unpreparedness of the NDA government to tackle the gravest disaster.
The CWC statement read out by former Union Finance Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram said, “We regret to say that the nation is paying a very heavy price for the thoughtlessness and unpreparedness of the NDA government to tackle the gravest disaster (Covid pandemic) that has hit the country and has affected millions of families claiming 1,75,673 lives so far.”
The CWC said that the Union government is passing the buck to the state governments and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi incorporating the suggestions made at the CWC.
The CWC has asked it’s state units to open helplines in the states and start working with those who need help in these tough times.
The CWC said that, “on the eve of the third lockdown, the central government passed the buck to the state governments even while retaining the power to issue orders and directions. Worse, the central government did not release sufficient funds to the state governments to fight the worst medical emergency that the country has faced.”
The CWC alleged that the experts warned the country that a second save was possible and perhaps imminent but the government was complacent. This is where the central government failed miserably and paved the way for the havoc that is being caused by the second wave of the Covid pandemic.
The CWC charged the central government with colossal mismanagement of the war against the pandemic and failure to create sufficient public awareness that a waning pandemic could be a precursor to a second wave that may be more devastating than the first wave. It also failed to rapidly scale up the production and supply of the two approved vaccines in India by providing sufficient funds and other concessions.
The CWC said that the government failed to resort to compulsory licensing and production of the two approved vaccines in other pharma manufacturing facilities in India and to universalise vaccination after health workers and frontline workers had been vaccinated in Phase I.
It also failed to get rid of pre-registration and bureaucratic control over the vaccination programme and to leave the vaccine roll-out to the state governments and public and private hospitals, to prevent, or at least minimize, the wastage of vaccine doses that stands at more than 23 lakh doses today.
The CWC said the government failed to maintain the scale and momentum of testing, tracking and tracing of infected persons and their contacts, to grant emergency-use approval to other vaccines that had got approval in the US, UK, European Union and Japan under a misguided notion of “atmanirbhar”, to allow the import of other approved vaccines manufactured in other countries to augment the supply of vaccines, to adopt a need-based, fair and equitable allocation of the vaccine doses to the various states. Official data shows that several states governed by Opposition parties got less than their fair share despite their need and failed to curb the exports of large quantities of vaccine doses to other countries. While some quantities should have been donated to small and developing countries, the zeal to export to rich countries was unwarranted.
“It is a shame that the country with the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing capacity has earned the odium of being among the most affected countries in the world,” the CWC said.
The cumulative number of infections is 1,45,26,609 and the cumulative death toll is 1,75,673. By any measure, even allowing for our large population, India is among the most affected countries of the world.
“The initial response measures of the central government were ludicrous to say the least. The Prime Minister went on national television to exhort people to clang plates; and after two weeks he went on national television to exhort people to light lamps. Medical experts held back their criticism of such superstitious rites; and knowledgeable persons cautioned the government that it ought to take scientific measures to confront the pandemic, “the CWC said.
The party also criticised that due to the sudden lockdown there was mass reverse migration of millions of people, “some estimates place it at 3 crore people,” who walked hundreds of kilometres without money, without food, without medicines and without any help whatsoever. An estimated 198 people died on the way.
The defining image of 2020 was the helpless migrant worker trudging along highways and railway lines completely abandoned by the State. It was a national humiliation, it said.