Abhishek Manu Singhvi
Abhishek Manu Singhvi

Our Bureau

New Delhi

The Congress on Wednesday blasted the Modi government for superficial and unplanned lockdowns on the one hand and telling lies on the spread of the coronavirus. It took exception to the jugglery of COVID-19 data by its NITI Aayog member and chairman of task force, claiming no new COVID-19 cases from May 16 that has been belied with a highest spurt in the number of confirmed cases and deaths.

Senior Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told a video-conferenced press conference the government has unfortunately become synonymous with "inefficiency, incompetence and insensitivity." He challenged the daily data on COVID-19 put out by the government as a spread of a lie.

He said the government's data on the spread of the deadly virus is unreliable as its testing rate is far low from 0.018 per thousand during the Lockdown 1.0 to 1.540 per thousand in the latest Lockdown, and the NITI Aayog claiming steep fall of cases at a press briefing on April 24, shamelessly misleading people without apology or contrition.

He quoted 2013 Nobel prize winner Prof Michael Levitt of the Stanford Medical School asserting that the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor. In India, already 383 persons have died due to the lockdown till May 10 because of starvation and financial distress, exhaustion from walking or standing in queues, police brutality, lack of medical care, accidents on roads and rail tracks and suicides due to fear of infection and lack of freedom of movement.

Singhvi said the nation has to just the cost benefit ratio of the unplanned lockdown and a clueless government on how and when to exit. He warned that more than one-third of the Indian households may run out of resources in another week and will face distress without assistance. He quoted in support a CMIE study showing 84% households suffering a decrease in monthly income an more than one-fourth of the country’s working age population unemployed. The study showed that 27 million youth in the age group of 20-30 years and 33 million men and women in their 30s lost their jobs in April.

The Congress leader said: "We still do not have a clue as to how, when, and in what way we will exit the lockdown."

He also pulled up Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's dirty politics of not allowing the buses provided to the migrant labourers to cross the state borders to reach Rajasthan. The buses are parked on the border since Tuesday and if permission is not granted till 4 pm, the labourers will start walking into Rajasthan.

Singhvi referred to a statement by Cong general secretary Priyanka Gandhi she has no problem if the BJP banners and flags are put on these buses to take credit for providing transport to the stranded. On the UP government’s claim that the details of 1,000 buses provided by the Cong included number of two-wheelers, ambulances and cars, he said the UP transport dept has already verified 879 buses and at least they should be allowed to cross the state border. What does Yogi want to do by preventing the return of the stranded to their homes, he asked.

Undeclared emergency is fraud on Constitution: Ahmed Patel

New Delhi: The Congress has hit back at BJP President JP Nadda who came out in open support of TV channel news anchor Arnab Goswami. Reacting to Nadda’s allegation that “perpetrators of emergency” should introspect, the Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel said, “Undeclared emergency” is a fraud on the Constitution which has been put on the country.

Nadda on Tuesday had said, “The Court’s observations should make the perpetrators of emergency, the assaulters of free speech and tramplers of media freedom — the Congress Party — introspect and change their style of functioning.” Responding to this, Ahmed Patel hit back, saying, “They have forgotten how Hardik Patel was hounded. Dhaval Patel — a reporter — was arrested by them. In UP & Kashmir, how their govt arrested journalists? Bit rich for them to sermonise and invoke freedom of the press selectively. Undeclared emergency is a fraud on the Constitution,” added Patel.

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