Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying his government’s lack of a clear and coherent Covid and vaccination strategy, as well as its hubris in declaring premature victory as the virus was exponentially spreading, has placed India in a highly dangerous position.
He also said that government’s failures have made another national lockdown almost inevitable, and to prevent a repeat of the manifold suffering caused by last year’s lockdown, the government must act with compassion and provide critical financial and food support to “our most vulnerable people”.
This is his second letter to the Prime Minister within a month. He has earlier written to Modi on April 9 calling for vaccinations to be opened up to “everyone who needs it” and an immediate halt on vaccine exports, predicting “catastrophic effects” on the economy if inoculations continued at the current pace.
His remarks came on the day when India recorded 4.14 lakh fresh cases of Covid in the last 24 hours, highest in a day.
In a three-page letter, Rahul Gandhi, who is also a Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Wayanad, said: “I am compelled to write to you once more as the Covid-19 tsunami continues to ravage our country unabated.”
The Congress leader said “in such an unprecedented crisis, the people of India must be your foremost priority”.
“I urge you to do everything in your power to stop the needless suffering that our people are going through,” he said.
He further said that but it is also important to understand India’s responsibility in a globalised and interconnected world.
“India is home to one out of every six human beings on the planet. The pandemic has demonstrated that our size, genetic diversity and complexity make India fertile ground for the virus to rapidly mutate, transforming itself into a more contagious and more dangerous form. The double and triple mutant strains that we are currently grappling with are only the beginning, I fear,” he said.
He highlighted that “allowing the uncontrollable spread of this virus in our country will be devastating not only for our people but also for the rest of the world”.
“It is, therefore, absolutely critical that we address several urgent issues without delay. We must — scientifically track the virus and its mutations across the country using genome sequencing as well as its disease patterns, dynamically assess the efficacy of all vaccines against all new mutations as they are identified, rapidly vaccinate our entire population and be transparent and keep the rest of the world informed about our findings,” he said.
Hitting out at the government, Rahul Gandhi said: “Your government’s lack of a clear and coherent Covid and vaccination strategy, as well as its hubris in declaring premature victory as the virus was exponentially spreading, has placed India in a highly dangerous position: today the disease is growing explosively.”
“It is currently on the verge of overwhelming all of our systems. Government of India’s (GOIs) failures have made another devastating national lockdown almost inevitable,” he said.
He suggested that in light of this, it is critical that our people are prepared for such an eventuality.
“To prevent a repeat of the manifold suffering caused by last year’s lockdown, the government must act with compassion and provide critical financial and food support to our most vulnerable people. In addition, it must be ready with a transportation strategy for those who will require it,” he said.
He also emphasised that he was aware that the Prime Minister is concerned about the economic impact of a lockdown.
“Inside and outside India, the human cost of allowing this virus to continue its march unimpeded will result in many more tragic consequences for our people than any purely economic calculations your advisors are suggesting,” he said, adding that in times of crisis, various stakeholders must be taken into confidence so we can all work together to safeguard India.