Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the aim and purpose of the nationwide lockdown has “failed” and asked the Centre to spell out its strategy now to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Rahul also said “haphazard” lifting of the lockdown could result in a second wave of the pandemic in India — one which could be “extremely devastating.”
Addressing an online press conference, the Congress MP said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told the country that India will defeat the virus in 21 days, and pointed out that the lockdown has not produced the result Modi had in mind. “Clearly, the Prime Minister and his advisers had underestimated the scale of the battle India had to launch to defeat coronavirus,” he said.
Using cricket terminology, Rahul said the Prime Minister was quick to take centrestage in the early stages but has stepped back and “gone on the back foot” at a time when his leadership is most needed.
He said: “He (Modi) played on the front foot initially. Now he is not to be seen. But the country wants to see the Prime Minister. He will have to tell the country how to go forward. He will have to come on the front foot again, aggressively — he has gone on the back foot. I am from the Opposition but I am telling him to come on the front foot again.”
Rahul said state governments are not getting adequate support from the Centre and feeling “hamstrung” as a result. He said chief ministers of Congress-governed states have told him that they are “fighting a lonely battle” without adequate support from the Centre.
“What we are facing right now is a failed lockdown because the goal of the lockdown, as stated by the Prime Minister on national television, was that we will defeat the disease in 21 day… These are not my words; these are the PM’s words… now we are coming to the end of the fourth lockdown and the disease profile is not reducing.” He added, “So what we expected from the lockdown has not occurred. Disease profile is shooting up.”
First imposed on March 25 and extended thrice, the lockdown ends on May 31.
The former Congress president said India is the only country “where the virus is exponentially rising and we are removing the lockdown”. He said there should be a strategy to ensure that the disease does not “run amok” once the lockdown is lifted. “I am worried that in a non-lockdown situation, in a haphazard opening up, we will get a second wave of corona that will be extremely devastating.”
“It is pretty clear that the aim and purpose of the lockdown has failed. What India is facing now, what is in front of us, is the result of a failed lockdown. What we want to understand is, the government’s view (of it)… going forward. We want to understand what their strategy is. It is pretty clear that the four stages of lockdown have not produced the result that the Prime Minister expected,” he said.
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