Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has said the sudden lockout announced by the central government to combat novel coronavirus has created immense “panic” and “confusion”.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he highlighted the plight of the poor and called for steps other than total lockdown announced by some developed nations to tackle the deadly disease.
Earlier today I wrote a letter to the PM on the Coronavirus crisis. While I’ve offered him my complete support in dealing with this extraordinary situation, I’ve also shared some of my concerns about the ongoing lockdown. My letter is forwarded with this tweet https://t.co/CjxLnFJTM5
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 29, 2020
“It is critical for us to understand that India’s conditions are unique. We will be required to take different steps than other large countries who are following a total lockdown strategy,” he said.
Gandhi said the number of poor people in India who are dependent on a daily income is too large to unilaterally shut down all economic activities in the wake of the pandemic.
“The consequences of a complete economic shut down will disastrously amplify the death toll arising from COVID-19,” he feared.
Out of work & facing an uncertain future, millions of our brothers & sisters across India are struggling to find their way back home. It’s shameful that we’ve allowed any Indian citizen to be treated this way & that the Govt had no contingency plans in place for this exodus. pic.twitter.com/sjHBFqyVZk
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 28, 2020
“The sudden lockdown has created immense panic and confusion,” he said, adding factories, small industries and construction sites have closed, and tens of thousands of migrant labourers are undertaking arduous journey to reach their home states.
The Gandhi scion said the labourers have been rendered vulnerable without their daily wages or access to nutrition and basic services.
It is important that we help such sections find shelter and provide them with money directly into their bank accounts to help them tide over the next few months, he said.
The Congress leader added that a complete lockdown will almost certainly lead to millions of unemployed youths rushing to their villages, thus increasing the risk of infecting their parents and the elderly population living in villages.
“This will result in a catastrophic loss of life,” he noted.
Gandhi called for a nuanced approach that takes the complex realities of our people into consideration.
“Our priority must be to protect and isolate the elderly and vulnerable from the virus, and to clearly and strongly communicate to the young the dangers of proximity to older people,” he said.