New Delhi: The Congress on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his video message, with senior party leader Shashi Tharoor saying there was no vision of the future in the address which was “just a feel-good moment curated by India’s photo-op Prime Minister”.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also criticised Modi’s video message broadcast this morning, saying “symbolism” is important but serious thought to ideas and measures is equally important.
He said a generous livelihood support package for the poor and announcement of steps to arrest the economic slide were expected, but the people were disappointed on both counts.
In a video message of over 11 minutes Friday morning, the Prime Minister urged people to switch off the lights at their homes and light up lamps, candles or mobile phone torches for nine minutes at 9 pm on April 5 to display the country’s “collective resolve” to defeat coronavirus.
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s message, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal tweeted, “Modiji, Learnt nothing about government’s steps to 1) contain the virus 2) protect our medical practitioners 3) provide testing kits 4) reach food and supplies to the poor 5) finance migrant labour, the jobless.” “Light the ‘Diya’ of reason not that of superstition!” he said.
Learnt nothing about government’s steps to
1) contain the virus
2) protect our medical practitioners
3) provide testing kits
4) reach food and supplies to the poor
5) finance migrant labour , the jobless
Light the ‘ Diya ‘ of reason
Not that of superstition !
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) April 3, 2020
In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said, “Dear (PM) Narendra Modi, We will listen to you and light diyas on April 5. But, in return, please listen to us and to the wise counsel of epidemiologists and economists.”
We will listen to you and light diyas on April 5. But, in return, please listen to us and to the wise counsel of epidemiologists and economists.
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 3, 2020
He said what the people expected from the Prime Minister was FAP (financial assistance plan) II, a generous livelihood support package for the poor, including for those categories of poor who were “totally ignored” by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 25 when she announced the first FAP.
The former finance minister said every working man and woman, from business person to daily wage earner, also expected the prime minister to announce steps to arrest the economic slide and re-start the engines of economic growth.
The people are disappointed on both counts, he said.
“Symbolism is important, but serious thought to ideas and measures is equally important,” Chidambaram said.
Tharoor launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister over the video message, calling him “Pradhan Showman”.
“Listened to the Pradhan Showman. Nothing about how to ease people’s pain, their burdens, their financial anxieties,” Tharoor said, hitting out at Modi.
“No vision of the future or sharing the issues he is weighing in deciding about the post-lockdown. Just a feel-good moment curated by India’s Photo-Op PrimeMinister!” the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
Tharoor also said it was no accident that the PM spoke on Ram Navami at 9 am for 9 mins, asked people to light diyas and candles on 5/4 at 9 pm for 9 mins.
“He is invoking all the auspicious elements Hinduism associates with number 9. Back to Ram Bharose?! COVID-19 must be more serious than we thought!” he said.
Congress spokesperson and senior leader Abhishek Singhvi said, “I wish NaMo stops giving the people of India unnecessary homework & starts actively addressing the huge migrant labour crisis that has emerged in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.”
Another Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, “9pm -9 minutes” was a good “pep-up” initiative by the PM for the country’s people to express solidarity, but he must soon address the nation on “prep-up” initiatives taken by the government for PPEs (Personal protective equipment) and test kits.
Doctors and nurses will definitely “pep-up” after hearing that they can work without fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“Pep Up+Prep Up is the need of the hour, Pep Up measures are ‘welcomed’ but Prep Up measures are what is ‘needed’ to end woes of our medical teams fighting without PPE- ‘Candlelight, Torchlight’ should not throw issue of better kits, protective gear ‘out of sight’,” Shergill said.
In his message, Modi asked people to think about ‘Maa Bharati’ (Mother India) and its 130 crore citizens with their combined resolve, saying this will give them the strength to fight and the confidence to win in this hour of crisis.
Modi also asked people to maintain the “lakshman rekha” of social distancing by staying indoors and not getting together in groups during the exercise.