Opposition leaders, led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, on Wednesday shot off a joint letter of a 9-point charter of demands to Prime Minister Modi to implement on a war footing, “without going into all acts of commission and omission by the Central Government that have brought the country to such a tragic pass”.
Noting the Covid-19 pandemic in India has assumed unprecedented dimensions of a human catastrophe, they referred to measures they sought independently and jointly as “absolute imperative”, that were either ignored or refused by the government. “Though it has not been the practice of your office or government, we would appreciate a response to our suggestions in the interests of India and our people,” said the joint letter.
Besides Sonia Gandhi, 5 other signatories to the joint letter are: Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda of Janata Dal-S, Sharad Pawar of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena), Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool Congress) and MK Stalin (DMK), the last three also the Chief Ministers of the big states of Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
The charter of demands reads:
1. Procure vaccines centrally from all available sources — global and domestic.
2. Immediately begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country.
3. Invoke compulsory licensing to expand domestic vaccine production.
4. Spend budgetary allocation of Rs35,000 crore for the vaccines
5. Stop Central Vista construction. Use the allocated money for procuring oxygen and vaccines, intead.
6. Release all money held in the unaccounted private trust fund, PMCares, to buy more vaccines, oxygen and medical equipment required.
7. Give all jobless at least Rs6,000 per month.
8. Free distribution of foodgrains to the needy (over one crore tonnes of foodgrains are currently rotting in central godowns. And,
9. Repeal farm laws to protect lakhs of our annadatas becoming victims of the pandemic, so that they can continue to produce food to feed the Indian people.