The Trinamool Congress, Congress, and CPM on Tuesday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation, saying there was nothing new in it as people knew that the nationwide lockdown imposed from March 25 to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic would be extended.
Modi announced that the lockdown would remain in place till May 3. Reacting to it, senior TMC leader and state minister Subrata Mukherjee said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had already announced the extension of the lockdown in the state.
“Banerjee had announced that lockdown in Bengal will remain in place till April 30,” said Mukherjee. “As most of the state did the same, the PM had no choice but to extend the lockdown. This is not surprising at all.” He claimed that Bengal was doing comparatively better than other states.
“In terms of numbers, we are in a better situation,” he added. “The number of affected people is less, and the number of COVID-19 deaths are also less.”
CPM leader Tanmoy Bhattacharya criticised Modi for not addressing the plight of migrant workers. “Lakhs of migrant workers are stuck across the country,” he said. “In Kerala, such workers are being looked after by the state government. However, in the rest of the country they have been left on their own. Modi did not say anything about how these workers will return to their homes, and if not then how will they survive the entire lockdown period?”
He added, “They have a right to know what the central government is doing for them.”
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury, lashed out at Modi for not announcing a financial package. “It has been almost a month since the lockdown started, yet there was no financial package or assistance announced by the PM,” he added. “There was no definite policy in his speech to address the rising unemployment, safety and security of health personnel.”
The Congress leader also accused the Centre of wasting precious time in January and February in dealing with the unfolding pandemic. “Had it taken precautionary measures earlier, the situation would not have aggravated so much,” he told PTI.
He also urged the PM to credit states for their efforts in fighting the pandemic rather than “patting his own back”, and said the strength of cooperative federalism had been proven during the crisis.
However, he acknowledged that India was in a “much better position” compared to many other developed countries. “The Union government, however, has a lot more to do to ensure that the Public Distribution System works smoothly and each and every person in distress gets food grains,” Chowdhury said.
Meanwhile, Medinipur MP and state BJP president Dilip Ghosh again accused the Mamata Banerjee government of hiding facts about the pandemic. “The state government is suppressing facts about the coronavirus situation in West Bengal,” Ghosh alleged. “While the Centre’s data says about 152 people have been infected here the state government data is showing 110 people are COVID-19 positive.”
He added that state hospitals were being closed as doctors had contracted the virus. “The Centre is sending kits but they are left unused by the state government,” Ghosh said. “Under such circumstances, the lockdown needs to be maintained strictly and there should not be any dilution.”
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