The Congress on Wednesday argued that the lockdown imposed by the Centre had had little impact on containing the spread of coronavirus but resulted in huge economic losses and a large number of deaths given its “unplanned” nature.
The party asked the government to explain the cost-benefit ratio of lockdown and alleged the Narendra Modi-led government has become synonymous with inefficiency, incompetence and insensitivity.
The BJP countered saying that it was never the government’s claim that there will be no coronavirus cases as a result of the lockdown.
“Lockdown had to be imposed suddenly, without weeks of notice, as the spread of the virus had to be contained by asking people to stay where they were,” BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said. “The Centre has been gradually relaxing lockdown restrictions, as we have ramped up our health infrastructure and testing capabilities.”
Addressing the media, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi pointed out that reported coronavirus-positive cases went up from 618 to 1 lakh plus between March 25, when the nationwide lockdown was implemented, and May 18, when relaxations came into force. He also pointed out that an expert from the NITI Aayog had predicted that no fresh case would emerge after May 16, and accused the government’s Covid task force of data jugglery.
Reeling out statistics, Singhvi said India’s testing rates continues to be low even as positive cases and deaths are mounting and asked whether the government is running on auto pilot. Arguing that the number of positive cases, deaths and testing are the three major parameters for gauging a country’s response to the pandemic, he said the government has “failed you (the people) miserably on this”.
“Lockdown might be a good technique and we support it, but this government has no strategy for going into lockdown or coming out of it,” Singhvi said. “What has been the cost-benefit ratio of an unplanned lockdown and a clueless government on how and when to exit it? Let the nation judge.”
Singhvi said India’s unemployment rate is at a record high of 27.1 per cent and data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) shows the country’s unemployment figures are four times that of the US. The data, he said, says out of 122 million (12.2 crore) people who have lost jobs, 91.3 million (9.13 crore) are small traders and labourers.
He claimed that 383 people have died due to the lockdown until May 10.
BJP leader Rao alleged that the Congress is jealous and envious of Modi’s soaring image, as reflected in global and national surveys, and said, “The Congress’s senseless criticism and its ever-shifting stance on lockdown is political opportunism and pusillanimity.”