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Centre avoiding discussion on border standoff with China: Sonia Gandhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on the Centre, accusing it of refusing to allow a discussion in Parliament on the border situation, among others. She also questioned the government’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi presides over a general body meeting of the CPP in the Central Hall, Parliament House, New Delhi. (Twitter/@INCIndia)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday launched a scathing attack on the Centre, accusing it of refusing to allow a discussion in Parliament on the border situation, among others. She also questioned the government’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy.

While addressing a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting at the Parliament House, she also said the party is firm in “our commitment to stand by the farmers in their demands for a legally guaranteed Minimum Support Price, remunerative prices that meet the costs of cultivation, and compensation to the bereaved families.”

On the issue of rise in prices of essential commodities, she said, “I cannot understand how and why the Modi Government is so insensitive and continues to deny the seriousness of the problem. It seems impervious to the suffering of the people.

“The steps it has recently taken to reduce petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices are totally insufficient and inadequate. As usual, the government has passed on the responsibility for duty cuts to financially strapped state governments – when it itself has far greater room for action. And all this while, the Centre persists with huge public expenditure on vain glorious projects.”

She added that “the prices of edible oils, pulses and vegetables are burning a hole in the monthly budget of every household. The rising prices of cement, steel and other basic industrial commodities also do not bode well for economic recovery.”

Accusing the government of selling off precious national assets like banks, insurance companies, public sector enterprises, railways and airports, she said, “First, the prime minister destroyed the economy with his demonetization move of November 2016. He is continuing on that disastrous path, but calling it monetization.

Congress members in the Central Hall of Parliament on Wednesday. (Twitter/INCIndia)

“Now, he is dismantling the public sector built up over the past 70 years with strategic, economic and social objectives in mind… What will happen to employment of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, for instance, if public sector companies and institutions continue to get privatized? Already lakhs upon lakhs of people, mostly young, have joined and continue to join the ranks of the unemployed.”

She said a few big companies making profits or the stock market rising to new heights does not mean that the economy is recovering. “And if profits are being made by shedding labour, what social value do these profits have?” Sonia asked.

Noting that the economy had lost its momentum well before Covid-19 struck and the pandemic accelerated this loss, she said owing to the government’s half-hearted and ill-advised responses, the situation has become even more serious.

On the border standoff with China, she said, “It is extraordinary that Parliament has been given no opportunity whatsoever so far to have a discussion on the challenges we continue to face on our borders. Such a discussion would have also been an opportunity to demonstrate a collective will and resolve.”

“The government may not want to answer difficult questions but it is the right and duty of the Opposition to seek clarifications and explanations. The Modi government steadfastly refuses to allocate time for a debate. I would once again urge for a full-fledged discussion on the border situation and relations with our neighbours,” she said.

Sonia also attacked the government over its Covid-19 vaccination strategy.

She said medical experts have clearly said that every adult must receive two doses of vaccination. “The Modi government indulged in massive publicity and celebrations when the 100-crore dose mark was reached. Needless to say, it never bothered to mention that the 100-crore mark figure was for a single vaccination only. The sad reality is that the country is nowhere close to reaching the level of double-dose vaccination announced by the government for the end of the year. Efforts must clearly be intensified — the daily vaccination dose has to increase four-fold so that at least 60% of the population is covered with both doses,” she said.

“Now the Omicron variant has reached our country. Our preparedness to deal with the changing situation is also being fully tested. I hope the government has learnt a lesson from the previous waves of Covid-19 and is preparing itself to deal effectively with the new variant,” she added.

Talking about the botched Army operation in Nagaland, she said it was not enough on the part of the government to express regret. “Justice for the families of the victims has to be ensured at the earliest. Credible steps must be taken to prevent the recurrence of such ghastly tragedies,” Sonia said.

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