New Delhi [India], May 7 (ANI): Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday alleged that the BJP-led government has "failed the people of country", and "abdicated its fundamental responsibilities and duties towards the people" in the COVID-19 crisis and demanded that it should urgently call an all-party meeting to discuss the pandemic situation.
Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting here, she attacked the government saying "India is crippled by a political leadership today that has no empathy for the people".
Gandhi said "fighting COVID is not a 'government versus us' battle but 'us versus corona' battle" which "transcends political differences" and "we have to fight this battle together as a nation".
She said meetings of standing committees must be convened to ensure collective action and accountability to combat the pandemic better.
Gandhi said India is in the grip of a deadly health disaster. "Thousands have died and millions are scrambling to access basic healthcare, life-saving medicines, oxygen, and vaccines. It is heartbreaking to see people battling for their lives in hospitals, on roads, waiting in vehicles, far too many for want of any medical help at all. And what is the Modi government doing? Instead of alleviating their suffering and pain, it has abdicated its fundamental responsibilities and duties towards the people," she said.
Gandhi said the government's own Empowered Groups and its National Task Force for COVID-19 had warned it that a second wave was imminent and urged it to plan and prepare for it.
"The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and opposition parties had raised serious concerns regarding preparedness. Yet, earlier this year the Prime Minister arrogantly boasted that he had defeated the pandemic and his party obediently felicitated him for his so-called success," she said.
"Ignoring expert advice, the Modi government refused to strengthen the supply-chains for oxygen, medicine, and ventilators. It failed to place sufficient orders for vaccines in time to meet the needs of our people. Instead, it consciously chose to allocate thousands of crores for non-essential projects that have nothing to do with the peoples' well-being," she added.
She said Parliament had allocated Rs 35,000 crores in the union budget to ensure free vaccines for all but the Modi government has placed the burden on already stretched state governments
"It has allowed differential pricing for vaccines. It has refused to enforce compulsory licensing to increase the vaccines production. The Modi government's inequitable vaccination policy will exclude millions of Dalits, Adivasis, Other Backwards Classes, as well as the poor and the marginalized. It is utterly shocking to see the Modi government abdicate its moral obligation and its sworn duty towards the people," Gandhi said.
Noting that "the system hasn't failed", Gandhi said Modi government has been unable to constructively channelize India's many strengths and resources.
"I say this categorically - India is crippled by a political leadership today that has no empathy for the people. The Modi Government has failed the people of our country," she said.
Gandhi said she, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and party leader Rahul Gandhi have written to the Prime Minister in a spirit of constructive cooperation and party chief ministers have also written to him besides the party raising legitimate questionsin the media but "unfortunately, these helpful initiatives have fallen on deaf ears".
"The government has made no meaningful response and continues to believe that it alone has the answers," she alleged.
The Congress chief said that the situation brooks no delay and tackling this crisis requires able, calm and visionary leadership.
"The nation is sinking under the weight of the Modi government's indifference and incompetence. This is a time for us to steel ourselves and rededicate ourselves in the service of our people," she said.
Gandhi said party workers are contributing their time and resources to ensure that people are able to access oxygen supplies, medicines, ventilators, and hospital beds. "Free ambulance services have started in some places, facilities for tele-counselling by doctors have been set up and helplines have been established. The Youth Congress efforts have been particularly noteworthy. Since the government has failed to deliver these essential services and supplies on adequate scale, it is imperative that we enhance and streamline these efforts," she said.
Gandhi said AICC's COVID control room is reaching out with a detailed blueprint and similar COVID relief control rooms have been set up at the state level. "Efforts must be made to organize ambulances, temporary beds, oxygen concentrators and necessary medicines. In our party, there are many resourceful persons. I urge them to come forward and render whatever help possible through our states' Relief Control room or on their own," she said. (ANI)