There Will Be A ‘Calamity’ If India’s Fight Against Covid-19 Is Centralised: Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during a news conference in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

There Will Be A ‘Calamity’ If India’s Fight Against Covid-19 Is Centralised: Rahul Gandhi

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to devolve power and make the states partners in the fight against the covid-19 pandemic.

There will be a "calamity" if the fight against coronavirus is centralised, Gandhi said.

"We need to decentralise power in dealing with the virus. If we keep this fight in PMO, we will lose. The PM must devolve power. If we centralise, there will be a calamity. PM has to trust chief ministers and chief ministers have to trust district magistrates," the Congress leader said during a press conference conducted on video.

He also asked the central government to adopt transparency in its actions to tackle the pandemic and work together with states. His remarks came after Congress-ruled states complained that they were being pushed into fiscal distress in the absence of virus-related resources from the Centre.

Lifting Of Lockdown

The lockdown is not an on/off switch but is a transition which requires cooperation of all, Gandhi said. He also asked the government to tell people what criteria it would use to exit the lockdown or continue it post May 17, as the way out of it poses a serious challenge to the country.

The government needs to work on a psychological change and if it has to remove the lockdown, it has to convert people's fear of the disease into confidence, as it is not deadly for most of them, he added.

Also Read: Lockdown Darkens for India After Train Runs Over Tired Migrants

State Of The Economy

Gandhi, who recently held one-on-one video interactions with former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and 2019 Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee on the state of the Indian economy amid the coronavirus crisis, called upon the government to immediately put money into the hands of the poor and provide a financial package to the industry.

Noting that the country is facing an emergency situation, the Congress leader said the idea of immediately putting Rs 7,500 directly into the hands of poor is critical. "We have to protect the job creators and have to build a wall for them to protect jobs and wages of workers. We have to give them financial support," Gandhi said.

The lockdown forced 122 million people out of jobs in India in April, according to estimates from private sector think tank Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, pegging India’s unemployment rate at 27.1 percent in the week through May 3.

According to the former Congress president, the government is delaying a Covid-19 stimulus package as it feels India could be downgraded by international agencies. "We need to start our domestic economy soon, the more time we lose, the worse impact it will have," he said.

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