Modi government has failed people of India, COVID battle transcends political differences: Sonia Gandhi

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday slammed the Narendra Modi government over its handling of the Covid pandemic, saying “let us be absolutely clear – the system hasn’t failed… the Modi government has failed the people of our country”.

She said, “Instead of helping desperate patients, some BJP governments have been using the state’s repressive power to arrest people merely for crying out for help. They are cracking down on citizen groups who are trying their best to help.”

“Ignoring expert advice, the Modi government refused to strengthen the supply-chains for oxygen, medicine, and ventilators. It failed to place sufficient orders for vaccines in time to meet the needs of our people.”

The Modi government, she said, must urgently call an all-party meeting on the Covid-19 situation. She also demanded that standing committees be convened to ensure collective action and accountability to combat the pandemic better.

India is struggling to contain a devastating second wave of Covid infections; this morning over four lakh new cases were reported in the previous 24 hours. The tidal wave has left hospital beds, medicines and oxygen supplies at a premium, and medical professionals overworked and traumatised.

The centre was also criticised over its stance on vaccine pricing, after manufacturers were allowed to charge up to 700% more for doses sold to private hospitals and states. The Congress has accused the centre of “vaccine profiteering” but the centre has dismissed the charge.

“As you all know, Parliament allocated Rs 35,000 crores in the union budget to ensure free vaccines for all. Yet the Modi government has placed the burden on already stretched state governments. It has allowed differential pricing for vaccines,” Sonia Gandhi said.

Mrs Gandhi also highlighted letters written by Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the “spirit of constructive cooperation,” but said these had fallen “on deaf ears”.

Addressing her party’s MPs for the first time since the results to four states and one union territory, she said the CWC would meet soon to review the outcome.

“We as a party collective must draw appropriate lessons from this setback in polls in the spirit of humility and honesty,” she said, describing the Congress’ performance in the recently concluded elections as very disappointing.