COVID-19: Time for PM Modi to act instead of giving speeches, advice, says Congress

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New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) The Congress on Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been missing in action all through the COVID-19 pandemic and it is time for him to act instead of giving speeches and advice.

The party said India needs compassion and healing instead of 'tears of guilt' and a strong resolve to defeat COVID-19 through good governance.

Earlier in the day, Modi had turned emotional while paying condolences to those who lost their lives due to coronavirus during a virtual interaction with doctors, paramedical staff and frontline health workers in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at the prime minister saying he should provide people vaccines instead of procrastinating. 'Mr Modi, Vaccinate! Don't Procrastinate,' he said on Twitter and shared a media report claiming that 70 per cent of districts have received less than 20 doses per 100 population.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, 'India doesn't need 'tears of guilt', India needs compassion and healing, India needs resolve to defeat Covid, India needs governance and delivery.' Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal said instead of giving speeches and advice, it is time the prime minister acted as he has been missing during the pandemic.

'I think, instead of speeches, instead of advice, the prime minister has to act at least now… action from the central government, action from the prime minister has been totally missing during this entire pandemic period,” he told reporters at a virtual press conference.

'Now, the country is asking again and again what action you have taken. Instead of speeches, instead of advice, we need actions from the central government,' he added.

Venugopal said Rahul Gandhi had cautioned the prime minister about the COVID-19 “tsunami” last year, but everybody took it very lightly and instead mocked the Congress leader.

Recalling Modi’s remark in March last year that the Mahabharata war was won in 18 days but the war against coronavirus will take 21 days -- referring to the 21 day nation-wide lockdown announced by him back then -- Venugopal said the prime minister is now realising that it is a long battle.

But, for fighting this long war, how much precaution has been taken by the central government, the country is now asking, he said.

Venugopal asked how the central government was compensating the poor people who have lost their livelihoods as most states are under a lockdown.

'What is the government going to do? There is no answer,' Venugopal said.

He also sought to know the government's plan to tackle the shortage of oxygen and medicines even as the threat posed by increasing cases of 'black fungus' is looming large.

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera wondered if the prime minister shedding tears will console those who have lost their dear ones to COVID.

'Will their pain be reduced? Someone who has lost a mother, father, brother, husband, wife, children, will their pain be compensated,' he said.

'This country is far greater than the prime minister. What is more important than the prime minister's tears are the tears of every Indian that could have been stopped and lives saved had the mistakes not been done in the last one year,' he said.

Attacking the prime minister for centralising everything, he said, 'You have all authority centralised and when you fail, you try and decentralize responsibility; it does not work this way.' Meanwhile, Venugopal demanded that the government should procure vaccines soon and inoculate all Indians to save them from the virus.

Earlier, he spelt out a host of measures undertaken to help those affected from COVID on Rajiv Gandhi's 30th death anniversary on Friday.

He said Rajiv Gandhi's compassion and resolve to boldly take the road less travelled and implement out of the box initiatives was legendry and with his unfathomable dedication to change India, Congress workers across the country rededicate themselves to the life of their leader, who not only dared to dream but implemented life altering transformation and change.

He said millions of Congress workers and leaders undertook a special 'SEVA' drive today in the service of the people and dedicated themselves to the service of people in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. 'As a deliberately negligent and callous leadership in the central government was caught napping during the second coronavirus wave, which hit the country in January-February 2021, Indian National Congress and its frontal organisations, especially the Indian Youth Congress, have done stellar work in the service of fellow countrymen, with dedication and humility,” he said.

“Providing free ambulance and hearse vehicles, oxygen and oxygen concentrators, medicines, and home isolation kits, from arranging plasma donors to tele-consultations, from providing dry ration to food packets and even assisting in cremation and burial of the loved ones; Indian National Congress and its workers have shown the fortitude and resilience in the most painful times,' he claimed.

'The Congress will continue to be at the service of every single Indian across the country to hold their hand, to be of service and to try and ease the troubles. These initiatives will be ongoing for as long the pandemic continues,' he said. PTI SKC RHL