New Delhi: The Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting called over the Covid-19 crisis in the country reflected the changed times. The meeting was virtual and done through video-conferencing to maintain social distancing. The mood at the CWC was mixed; critical of the government’s measures yet urging support as India deals with the pandemic.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was the first to speak and demanded a minimum relief programme. “Close to 90% of our fellow Indians toiling in the unorganised sector are extremely vulnerable. The economic consequences of the pandemic threatens to destroy their livelihood. We owe them our full and constructive support,” she said.
I urge the Central Govt to prepare and publish a common minimum relief program. This is vital and will help alleviate several of the concerns that currently afflict our people: Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi at the CWC meeting. pic.twitter.com/APIWytOMPX— Congress (@INCIndia) April 2, 2020
While former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh said all parties and the Congress are united in fighting the coronavirus epidemic, the government came in for criticism from Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Badra who raised concerns over the way the lockdown was announced. They said it was haphazard, arbitrary and done without adequate preparations.
Rahul Gandhi accused the prime minister of burying his head in the sand, saying he had been raising the issue of India’s preparedness since the outbreak in China.
At the Congress CWC meeting today I emphasised the urgent need to devise an India specific strategy to combat the #COVID19Pandemic & for Congress workers & leaders to help soften the blow by assisting the poor & the most vulnerable sections of our society in every possible way.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 2, 2020
Former finance minister P Chidambaram raised the issue of the economic impact, saying the economy was bound to be hit but the situation has “worsened” given the way the government has responded.
It’s a catch-22 situation for the Congress. Given the circumstances, it cannot be seen as opposing the Centre. In fact, sources say some Congress chief ministers like Captain Amarinder Singh and Bhupesh Baghel expressed the view that now is not the time to oppose. But as the main opposition party, it is tough for the Congress top brass to stay quiet.