Cooperation between Centre, states key to tackle Covid-19: Former PM Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh made the remark while addressing the Congress Working Committee (CWC) through video-conferencing, while highlighting the key to success in the combat against Covid-19 would be the cooperation between the Centre and states.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the success of the ongoing lockdown restrictions would be judged on the country’s ability to tackle coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
Singh made the remark while addressing the Congress Working Committee (CWC) through video-conferencing, while highlighting the key to success in the combat against Covid-19 would be the cooperation between the Centre and states.
“It is necessary to focus on a number of issues in this fight and that will depend upon the availability of resources,” added Singh.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the issue of migrant workers needs to be addressed on a priority basis. “Lockdown is a pause button. As a nation, we need to think of a transition from a complete lockdown to lockdown only in hotspots and commencement of activities in green zones,” he added.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh said the Centre was yet to release Rs 4,400 crore of Goods and Service Tax (GST) dues. “In place of 100,000 rapid testing kits, we’ve received only 10,000 and that too of Chinese make. Their authenticity is yet to be tested,” he added.
His Rajasthan counterpart Ashok Gehlot said his government had repeatedly emphasised the need for rapid testing but unfortunately the test kits turned out to be below par.
“There is an urgent need for centralised procurement of kits and ventilators in a bid to assure their availability, quality, and quantity. We gave an advance pension to 80 lakh pensioners. We transferred Rs 2,500 each among the poor and destitute. We’re also distributing 10 kilograms of wheat to each household,” he added.
Gehlot said the fight against Covid-19 could never be won unless the Centre provides financial support to states. “Normalcy can’t be restored even after lockdown restrictions are lifted till the Centre announces a comprehensive financial package for states,” he added.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said out of 36 Covid-19 positive cases in his state, all but eight have recovered. “We’ve given rations for two months (April-May) ration of 35 kilograms free to 56 lakh families (2.44 crore people). We’ll provide free ration for June as well. The 35-kg free ration includes rice, gram, jaggery, and salt,” he said.
Baghel expressed concern about students and migrant labourers from Chhattisgarh, who are still stuck in other states because of the ongoing lockdown restrictions. “There needs to be a policy by the central government for the return of migrant workers and students. Unfortunately, the Centre is silent on this,” he added.
Baghel also demanded financial assistance from the Centre. “How will we win the fight against Covid-19 unless the Centre gives us financial aid?” he said.
Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy said his government has given Rs 2,000 to every household, Rs 5,000 to every farmer, additional Rs 2,000 to every construction worker, and Rs 10,000 to every woman self-help groups from its own kitty.
“The Centre hasn’t given the Rs 600 crore of GST compensation and Rs 2,200 crore of the finance commission’s share to us. It hasn’t given any assistance to us. How will a state survive in times of crisis? We’re not enemies. We’ve to act and work together,” he added.
Senior leader Ahmed Patel said the conditions to fight Covid-19 were not satisfactory. “The Centre needs to find solutions to the financial crisis being faced by all states. Our doctors and health workers are also facing several challenges,” he added.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram said the finances of states were in dire straits and they need urgent assistance. “The health infrastructure also needs to be addressed and a humane policy formulated for the return of migrant workers,” he added.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said crude oil prices have fallen to rock bottom yet the Centre refuses to give any relief to the common man. “The Congress must aggressively take up the issue,” he said.
Former defence minister AK Antony said, “It’s our responsibility to act as watchdogs and ensure course correction. A large number of Indians are stuck abroad. They must be permitted to return home after they undergo tests. State governments must be consulted and special flights arranged to evacuate them. Why isn’t the Centre doing so? he asked.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra said compassion is the key to fight the pandemic. “There should be no hostility towards Covid-19 patients. We need to permit migrant workers to return to their homes after they undergo tests and take due precautions,” she said.