With India facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday urged the Centre to evolve a national policy to deal with the pandemic after bringing about a political consensus on it.
In a video message, she said it is time for the central and state governments to wake up and fulfill their duties.
Gandhi also said COVID-19 jabs should be provided free of cost to all citizens and sought compulsory licensing to ramp up vaccine production to speed up the country's inoculation drive to help save Indians.
"I urge the central government to evolve a national policy to deal with the COVID crisis in the country and a strategy to bring about a political consensus over it," the Congress president said.
She also said that the central government should "first think about the poor and provide them with Rs 6,000 each to the bank accounts of all to stop their migration, till the end of the pandemic".
Gandhi called for increasing testing and checking the black marketing of essential life-saving drugs besides providing oxygen, medicines and other equipment to hospitals on a war-footing.
The discrimination over vaccine pricing should end and black marketing of life-saving drugs be stopped and all industrial oxygen be provided to hospitals for medical purposes, she said.
The Congress chief said her party will stand with the Centre in the fight against the pandemic and appealed to all Indians to unite in these testing times.
She also prayed for the good health of all Indians during these challenging times of the pandemic and offered her heartfelt condolences to the lakhs of families who have lost their loved ones.
"Our country is facing the pandemic and lakhs of our citizens have been affected by coronavirus everyday. This crisis is the testing time for all of us and we have to hold each other's hands, support each other and be their strength.
"The current times have shattered humanity, with many states facing shortage of beds, oxygen and life-saving medicines," she said, urging everyone to avoid moving out of their homes unless necessary.
She also called upon all to unite and try and help each other leaving aside any discrimination.
"I am confident that you will understand the seriousness of the COVID pandemic and will contribute as a citizen. I hope the country will soon succeed in coming out of this crisis," Gandhi said in her five-minute video message.
She complimented the doctors and nursing staff and all health workers who are treating all those affected with COVID while risking their lives.
India's daily COVID-19 cases reached a record high of 4,01,993 on Saturday, taking the cumulative caseload to 1,91,64,969. The death toll climbed to 2,11,853 with 3,523 fresh fatalities, according to Union health ministry data.