Congress asks Centre for a Common Minimum Relief Programme

21-day lockdown was necessary but unplanned enforcement caused chaos and pain, says the Congress Working Committee

The Congress Working Committee, party’s highest decision making body, on Thursday had its first ever virtual meeting on the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, in which party chief Sonia Gandhi asked the Centre to come out with a ‘common minimum relief programme’ and asserted that the unplanned lockdown caused “chaos and pain for migrant workers.”

“The 21-day National Lockdown may have been necessary but the unplanned manner in which it has been implemented has caused chaos and pain in the lives of millions of migrant workers all over India. It has been heart-breaking to see lakhs of people walking for hundreds of kilometres towards their villages without food or shelter,” Ms. Gandhi said in her opening remarks at the CWC.

Also read: Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

The Congress chief spoke about the urgent need to provide personal protection equipment (PPE) for health workers, relief to farmers who have been hit just ahead of the harvesting season, relief for informal workers, and protect middle class people from wage cuts and job losses.

“I urge the Central Government to prepare and publish a Common Minimum Relief Programme. This is vital and will help alleviate several of the concerns that currently afflict all people,” she said, adding that “COVID-19 doesn’t distinguish between ideology, religion, caste, age or gender.”

While former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the nation rallying as one, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked the States to protect the elderly population.

“ #COVID particularly attacks aged persons, people with lung disease, diabetics, persons with heart disease, making them most vulnerable. All State Govts need to issue Spl advisory for these categories and take care,”Mr Gandhi was quoted as saying in the meeting by party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a tweet.

Congress Chief Ministers, including Punjab’s Captain Amarinder Singh and Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel briefed the CWC on the steps taken by their respective State governments.

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