New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) Leaders of 22 opposition parties on Friday accused the Centre of unabashedly usurping powers of states and demanded restoration of Parliament functioning and oversight with immediate effect.
The opposition parties also demanded immediate reversal of all unilateral policy decisions, especially on the changes in labour laws, at a meeting convened by the Congress through video conferencing.
Those who attended the meeting discussed the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and put forth an 11-point charter of demands before the central government.
They also accused the Centre of having failed in discharging its responsibilities in a timely, effective and sensitive manner during the pandemic.
The opposition parties, including the TMC, JD(S) and CPI(M), said the economy has collapsed and all sections of society face acute distress, with livelihoods being destroyed and lives lost.
'Sadly, we have to point out that the Union government has failed in discharging its responsibilities in a timely, effective and sensitive manner,' a joint statement from the parties said.
It said grand announcements have been made but they do nothing meaningful to alleviate the sufferings of people and address the pressing concerns of farmers and farm labour, of migrant and other workers, of trade and commerce, and MSMEs.
'In fact, the Union government has unabashedly usurped powers vested in the states undermining the constitutionally guaranteed federal democracy,' the statement said.
The like-minded opposition parties said they believe that this is neither the time for the government at the Centre to indulge in showmanship nor one-upmanship, but this is the time for a gigantic collective endeavour.
'This is what the people of India need, and this is what the people of India demand. It is important that the government of India reaches out and engages in a dialogue with all political parties in a systematic manner, listen seriously to the suggestions that we have to make, activate Parliamentary institutions like Standing Committees and be genuine in helping the states financially and otherwise,' the parties said in the statement.
They also demanded from the Centre direct cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month to families outside the Income Tax bracket for six months and said Rs 10,000 should be given to them immediately along with free ration.
The parties also demanded that the Centre provide free transportation for all migrant workers to their native places and make immediate and reliable arrangements to repatriate all Indian students and other citizens stranded overseas, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a press conference.
He said that the opposition parties have also demanded that the Centre immediately provide a financial package for states, besides a clear and meaningful economic strategy focused on revival and poverty alleviation instead of propaganda.
'The 22 parties represent over 60 to 70 per cent of the country's population and hoped that the prime minister and the government would take a positive view of their demands,' Surjewala said.
The parties in the statement said the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package and its contents mislead the people of India.
'We demand that the government present a revised and comprehensive package that will be a true fiscal stimulus in order to stimulate demand in the economy,' the statement said.
Release substantial funds to the state governments who are in the frontline of combating the pandemic, the parties demanded.
They also asked the Centre to communicate in clear terms its exit strategy from the lockdown, if any.
The leaders of 22 opposition parties included West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Jharkhand Chief Minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, DMK leader M K Stalin and JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda, besides CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury and CPI's D Raja.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Mallikarjun Kharge were also present during the video conference.
Leaders of some other regional parties such as Sharad Yadav (LJD), Omar Abdullah (NC), Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Jitan Ram Manjhi (HAM), Upendra Kushwaha (RLSP), Jose K Mani (KC-M), Badruddin Ajmal (AIUDF), Jayant Chaudhary (RLD) and Raju Shetty (Swabhimani Paksha) also participated. PTI SKC ANB ANB