Updated: April 21, 2021 1:20:32 pm
As Covid-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming pace throughout the country, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Wednesday hit out at at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he needs to show up and tell people how he is going to save lives. “…PM needs to show up. He needs to get off the stage of the rally where is laughing and cracking jokes. He needs to come here, sit in front of people, talk to them and tell them how is he going to save lives,” said Gandhi in an interview to ANI.
Taking a dig at the government over poor medical infrastructure, Gandhi asked why India was facing an acute oxygen shortage despite having one of the largest production capacity in the world. “India’s production capacity for oxygen is one of the largest in world. Then why’s there a shortage? You had 8-9 months (between first & second wave), your own Serosurveys indicated that a 2nd wave is imminent, you ignored it,” the Congress leader said.
Gandhi also said it is tragic that oxygen is available but not reaching where it should. “You had time. Today, only 2000 trucks in India can transport oxygen. How tragic it is that oxygen is available but it’s not reaching where it should. 1.1 million Remdesivir injections were exported in last 6 months. Today, we’re facing shortage.”
“Govt exported 6 cr vaccines b/w Jan-March. During this time 3-4 cr Indians were vaccinated. A huge PR exercise was conducted with photos of vaccines arriving in countries like Mauritius, Guyana and Nepal being circulated. Why were Indians not prioritised? Vaccine shortage is due to bad planning, Remdesivir shortage due to no planning, oxygen shortage due to no strategy. It’s Govt’s failure,” she added.
Lashing out at BJP leaders for holding big rallies in poll-bound states, Gandhi said they should fix their priorities. “Even today they’re busy with campaigning. They’re laughing from the stages (at rallies). People are crying, screaming for help, seeking oxygen, beds, medicines, & you’re going to huge rallies & laughing! How can you?”
Talking about the Congress’ long-standing demand for universalization of COVID-19 vaccination and the government’s inoculation strategy, Priyanka Gandhi slammed the government for exporting vaccine doses for a “PR exercise”.
Gandhi said the Modi government’s lack of foresight has compelled India to become an importer of vaccines today and even now, their “vaccine strategy is flawed and discriminatory”. “Why are free vaccines not being made available to 18-45 year olds? The new variants are supposedly even more virulent and many young people are affected. And why is the government allowing middlemen into the equation without price controls?”
Referring to the UP govt’s statement on increased testing, Gandhi said, “Their own Serosurvey in Oct-Nov said, 5 cr people came in contact with the virus. Ramping up of testing was recommended. UP Govt started 70% antigen tests which means only 30% RT-PCR test is being done.”
She also claimed that private labs are being told to stop testing. “Why did they not ramp up? Why the antigen tests? To lower their numbers? Even today reports are coming that private labs are being told to stop the testing. Why? What is important – people’s lives or your numbers and the image of your govt?
When asked about Union minister Piyush Goyal’s statement that states must keep oxygen demand under control, she said Goyal’s “heartless comment” shows the “brutal coldness” at the heart of this administration. “They see precious human life in terms of demand and supply. But then what can one expect from a government led by a prime minister who is continuing to hold public rallies and laughing on stage while lakhs of people are crying for help, the healthcare system is reeling under a massive pandemic and lakhs of Indians are fighting for their lives,” she said.
She also expressed displeasure over government’s response to the letter of former PM Manmohan Singh to Modi. “Manmohan Singh ji was PM for 10 yrs. Everyone knows how dignified a person he is. If he’s giving suggestions when nation is facing pandemic, then suggestions should be taken up with same dignity with which they were offered,” she said.
“They (government) are wasting time engaging in pettiness, making a minister respond to a letter addressed by a former prime minister who served this nation selflessly and with dignity to the present Prime Minister, Union Ministers are blaming state governments for increased oxygen consumption and central government press releases are targeting Opposition governments,” she added.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.