April 16, 2021 4:05:03 am
Opposition parties on Thursday asked the Centre to ban mass congregations of all kinds and give state governments the freedom to enter into contracts for procurement of vaccines.
While the Shiv Sena asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately set up a “task force” to deal with the situation that has “gone beyond control,” the RJD said although shutdowns are not ideal, administrations must be ready for a lockdown.
The Congress accused the government of mishandling the situation.
The CPI(M) said the Centre cannot abstain from its responsibility by blaming the people for not following the protocol, or shifting the blame to state governments.
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Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma told The Indian Express that state governments must immediately be allowed to enter into contracts for procurement of vaccines. “We are a federal country…health is a state issue. The epidemic is separate. But when it comes to healthcare, the Centre cannot control…the Centre is not constitutionally mandated to,” he said.
Sharma also said the situation has been mismanaged due to over-centralisation.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “It is not about one state any longer. The PM must take his eyes off West Bengal, sit in Delhi and set up a task force. The situation is beyond control now. The PM should only focus on this…. Look at the situation in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi…many states had been hiding the information…”
Stating that lockdown is “not a solution”, Raut said, “The people will not listen…. Look at Maharashtra…people are coming out, they are going for jobs…how can you stop them?”
Raut said that the “only solution” is that the government should “function as a government”. He said, “The entire government is in Bengal…I am not talking about one party – it is for all…it is not just for the BJP…. Look at how cases have risen in states where elections are being held…where the Kumbh is being held.”
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said: “It is time the Prime Minister and the Home Minister concentrated less on politics and electioneering and tackled Covid on a war footing. They have to make rules absolutely uniform, stringent and non-negotiable. For example, all super-spreader activities, irrespective of religious colour, ideological origin, political dispensation or geographical or regional affiliation, have to be simply banned.”
Senior RJD leader Manoj Kumar Jha said capacities of hospitals and health centres need to be expanded rapidly and all bureaucratic delays must be avoided. “Even now, a lot of crowded events are being held across the country — they should be stopped immediately,” Jha said. “It will send out a strong, positive message among the people.”
The RJD leader said, “I agree lockdowns are not ideal, but I mean it quite seriously when I say that the administration must be ready for it. We need to use whatever little time we have to prepare for it.”
The CPI(M) said, “The Central government must immediately ban mass congregations of all hues; strictly regulate implementation of protocol in election meetings; organize special trains for free passage of all migrant workers to their homes; release extra resources and all funds collected in PM Cares to augment health facilities; and intensify mass vaccination on an urgent basis.”
Congress’s Sharma also alleged that the Centre was aware of the existence of double mutants as early as the middle of March but had suppressed the information. He demanded an independent probe to find out the truth.
He said: “Whether the government has released (on time) in public domain the information on double mutants or withheld it…. My allegation is that they had withheld it for over three weeks. Why? India was aware of Indian mutants. Different laboratories had traced it. What has been officially stated yesterday was known since the middle of March. We want a correct answer. Three labs had detected these…every report was stopped on the government’s diktat on the Health Secretary’s desk. Let there be an independent inquiry.”
The existence of specific Indian strains possibly carrying double mutation has been in public discussion at least since the middle of February, shortly after some districts in Mahashtra’s Vidarbha region started showing a rise in infection numbers, leading up to the beginning of the second wave in the state.
Health officials in Maharashtra, as well Rakesh Mishra, director of the Hyderabad-based CCMB, one of the top laboratories engaged in genome sequencing, had said that some samples collected from Amravati, Yavatmal and neighbouring districts had shown these new and “emerging” strains of virus, which had two noticeable mutations.
These findings from relatively limited number of samples resulted in more genome sequencing from virus samples from these, and other areas, of Maharashtra.
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