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Published On: Fri, May 22nd, 2020

Rs 20 lakh crore financial package a “cruel joke on the country”: Sonia

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sonia 24NEW DELHI : The leaders of the 22 parties, who met through video-conferencing, passed a resolution in this regard and said relief and rehabilitation should be the topmost priority at this juncture.

…”We, the opposition parties extend our sympathy and support to the governments and people of West Bengal and Odisha in meeting the impact of the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan,” the resolution said.
It said a natural calamity like Cyclone Amphan has come as a double blow amid the coronavirus pandemic, breaking the spirits of people. “Opposition Parties urge the union government to immediately declare this as a national calamity and substantially help the states in facing the impact of this disaster.”
Congress president Sonia Gandhi  while chairing the first meeting of the Opposition parties held amid the lockdown on Friday  took on the Modi-led Central government and termed the Rs 20 lakh crore financial stimulus package as a “cruel joke on the country”.
Going on to say that the “defining image of the pandemic has been the lakhs of migrant workers, many with children, walking hundreds of kilometres, without money, food or medicines,” Sonia said in her opening statement that the “economy has been gravely crippled”.

Saying that the “initial optimism of the Prime Minister that the war against the virus would conclude in 21 days has turned out to be misplaced,” Sonia added, “The government was uncertain about the criteria for lockdowns, nor does it have an exit strategy. Successive lockdowns have yielded diminishing returns. The government also stumbled badly on the testing strategy and the import of test kits”.

“The government has also abandoned any pretence of being a democratic government. All power is now concentrated in one office, the PMO. The spirit of Federalism which is an integral part of our Constitution is all but forgotten.
There is no indication either if the two Houses of Parliament or the Standing Committees will be summoned to meet,” she said.Issuing a castigating remark, Sonia said that the demand for direct cash transfer “have fallen on deaf ears”.
The Congress party had sent invites to 18 Opposition parties earlier this week for the meet. It was skipped by BSP chief Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.

The government has abandoned any pretence of being democratic, has no compassion for the poor and has embarked on a “wild adventure of so-called reforms including a grand clearance sale of public sector units.”
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda were among those who joined the zoom conference but prominent absentees included Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Arvind Kejriwal.
Apart from migrant workers, she said, those who had been “cruelly ignored” include the 13 crore families in the bottom half of the population — tenant farmers and landless agricultural workers; the laid off or retrenched workers; the shopkeepers and the self-employed; MSMEs; and organized industries.
“That the present government has no solutions is worrying; but that it has no empathy or compassion for the poor and vulnerable is heartbreaking,” said Mrs Gandhi. For Uddhav Thackeray, whose Shiv Sena was a BJP ally for 35 years but has now teamed up with the NCP and Congress to rule Maharashtra, this was the first such opposition meeting.
(With Agency Inputs ).

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