New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) With the country reeling under a second wave of coronavirus pandemic, the Congress on Monday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi for addressing poll rallies in West Bengal while 'ignoring his responsibilities' at the Centre.
The party also criticised Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for his 'condemnable' reply to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's letter giving suggestions to Modi to tackle the outbreak, saying the minister's response was inspired by politics.
'Why is PM addressing 4 rallies in one day ignoring his responsibilities as PM? We all know what BJP's rallies are. Glitzy, multi-crore extravaganzas that are used to abuse the opposition parties,' senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said.
'What is so important about these rallies that the PM himself has to address them? Is it because of fear that the BJP is losing the election,' he asked in a series of tweets.
'The voters of West Bengal in the remaining three phases must express their strong disapproval of the PM's gross negligence of his duties,' Chidambaram said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot condemned Harsh Vardhan's letter to former PM Singh.
He alleged the Central government is unable to tolerate any suggestion from a person or a political party, and considers it criticism.
'It seems they know they have committed grave mistakes and are guilt-ridden,' Gehlot said.
He said former PM Manmohan Singh wrote his letter to Modi in public interest, giving positive suggestions about the vaccines to the government and it didn't contain any criticism of the ruling dispensation.
'But the way Health Minister has written a letter to Manmohan Singh ji, which is inspired by politics, is unfortunate and condemnable,' he said.
At a virtual press conference, Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan said Harsh Vardhan should apologise for his letter criticising the former PM.
He said suggestions given by the former prime minister should be taken in a positive way.
'I think, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan should apologise to the former prime minister for his remarks,' he said.
Chavan also criticised the prime minister for holding poll rallies in West Bengal, saying, 'The Prime Minister should attend to Covid situation instead of campaigning in elections.' He said union minister Piyush Goyal and former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis are indulging in politics, but what people want is the situation being brought under control.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate also criticised the prime minister for addressing rallies in West Bengal when the situation across the country is grim.
'I wonder when Rahul Gandhi has cancelled all his poll rallies in such a situation, can PM Modi ji not see his responsibility as Prime Minister? Is seeking votes in Bengal more important that people's lives,' she asked.
On Health minister Harsh Vardhan's reply to former PM Singh, she said 'It is probably the first case of pettiness where he has made name-calling and accusations to a former prime minister.' She alleged that the Central government has 'completely bungled up in its vaccine augmentation' and accused the Health minister of having failed in his duties.
“Mask your own mismanagement that is what central government has to do,' she said, adding that she is 'sorry for Harsh Vardhan that he has to stoop so low.' 'The Centre is too busy contesting elections and addressing rallies. They care a damn about people's lives,' she also alleged.
Meanwhile, Chidambaram also alleged that Covid-caused deaths are being 'mis-reported as caused by cardiac arrest, chronic diabetes etc. That is the Gujarat model.' He alleged that while Gujarat officially reported 78 Covid-caused deaths on Friday (17th April), as many as 689 bodies were cremated in seven cities alone following the Covid protocol according to media reports.
Prime Minister Modi, as also Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, has been addressing poll rallies in West Bengal regularly. However, Gandhi recently suspended his rallies in the state in view of the rising coronavirus cases. PTI SKC TIR TIR