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New Delhi:

 
The Congress working committee met on the backdrop of the country facing the coronavirus pandemic and took feedback from the congress-ruled states, as party has been suggesting various measures to help the marginalised sections and daily wagers. Party president Sonia Gandhi slammed the lockdown as “unplanned” and emphasised that testing could only combat this disease which the country is “lacking” and demanded the government to prepare and publish a “Common minimum relief package”.

Sonia Gandhi in her opening remarks slammed the government, saying “the 21-day National Lockdown may have been necessary but the unplanned manner in which it has been implemented has caused chaos and pain in the lives of millions of migrant workers all over India.”

“The magnitude of the challenge before us is daunting but our resolve to overcome it must be greater,” she said.

“Our doctors, nurses, and health workers need all the support possible. Personal Protection Equipment such as hazmat suits, N-95 masks, etc must be provided to them on a war footing. Equally important are Ventilators and breathing equipment, isolation beds and designated hospitals to treat Covid-19. The onus lies on Government to ensure that the spread of infection and casualties are not caused owing to lack of infrastructure or preparedness,” she added.

Sonia Gandhi said that the pandemic has already caused untold suffering across the world, but it has also reaffirmed the bonds of brotherhood that unite humanity and those who are most vulnerable to the consequences of this pandemic are the poor and disadvantaged.

“We must come together for their sake and do all we can to support them through the difficult days that lie ahead,” said Sonia.

The Congress President hit out at the government for inefficient handling of the migrants. “It has been heart-breaking to see lakhs of people walking for hundreds of kilometres towards their villages without food or shelter.”

Sonia Gandhi in her speech said special benefit should be given to the Farmers, who have faced the wrath of inclement weather this season, are now confronted with having to cope with the harvesting season. This, at a time when the entire country has been locked down. They urgently require the availability of fertilizers and pesticides, access to easy lines of credit, forward guidance in preparing for the planting of the kharif crop and proper remuneration prices are essential for them to be able to survive the present economic onslaught.

Medium and Small-Scale Enterprises are now gravely threatened. Close to 90 percent of our fellow Indians toiling in the unorganised sector are also extremely vulnerable. The middle classes too are vulnerable. Wage cuts, job losses across all sectors of the economy, high petrol diesel and gas prices are causing them acute distress. If this was not enough, while EMIs have been deferred, no interest subvention or relief has been provided. This offsets the entire purpose of the deferment, she said.

“I urge the Central government to prepare and publish common Minimum Relief Programme,” said Sonia Gandhi. This is vital and will help alleviate several of the concerns that currently afflict all people, she added.

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