NEW DELHI: In a letter emphasising that “symbolism cannot substitute urgent concrete measures” to mitigate the crises triggered by coronavirus, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury petitioned President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday seeking his intervention in ensuring that the government takes concrete steps to battle and defeat the pandemic.
Yechury condemned the suddenness of PM Modi’s 21-day lockdown and said it triggered a crisis among the migrant community and in states since they were not taken into confidence in advance. He also said State Disaster Risk Management Funds are meager and inadequate to handle the crisis and the Union government must take measures to mitigate adverse economic consequences of the lockdown, including lifting and dispatching FCI stocks to states for distribution among people who have lost their livelihoods.
“Your government” must immediately announce a one-time waiver of loans taken by our kisans. This is perfectly possible given that so far loans worth Rs. 7.78 lakh crores taken by our super-rich corporates have been waived by this government. Surely, such empathies can also be extended to our “annadatas”,” Yechury said.
He pitched for a ramping up of healthcare infrastructure, aggressive augmentation of PPE’s and extensive testing and identifying of clusters, and also demanded that PM-CARES, the new fund set up by the Modi government, be merged with the existing Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), since it is “transparent, accountable and audited by the CAG”.
“The PM-Cares fund on the other hand is administered by a trust of four – the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Defence Minister and the Finance Minister. How the fund live be collected disbursed, what is its accountability — all these are unknown. There are disturbing reports of coercive collections, automatic deduction of a day’s salary from government employees and professionals, including health workers, without their concurrence,” Yechury said.
The CPM chief also condemned the communalising of the disease, saying that while the organisers of Tablighi Jamaat “were very irresponsible, this, however, cannot be the excuse to target the Muslim community as a whole.”