Expressing concern over the deadly second wave of COVID-19 pandemic which has now touched the daily death toll of 4,000 plus lives, leaders of 12 Opposition parties including four chief ministers have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging the Centre to take urgent steps including a free, universal vaccination drive and emergency procurement of shots from domestic and global markets.
Terming the situation an “apocalyptic human tragedy”, the parties also asked the Centre to stall the work on the Central Vista project and instead use the ₹35,000 crore on buying oxygen, vaccines and other medical equipment.
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Compulsory licensing to expand domestic vaccine production, releasing money held in “unaccounted private trust fun” and PM Cares to purchase vaccines and other medical equipment, providing foodgrains to the poor and ₹6,000 per month to the unemployed and repealing the farm laws to protect farmers grappling with the pandemic, are a few other suggestions put forth by the Opposition.
“Though it has not been the practice of your office or government, we would appreciate a response to our suggestions in the interests of India and our people,” the letter said.
The letter has been signed by all prominent Opposition parties including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, former minister HD Deve Gowda, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, JKPA leader Farooq Abdullah, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and RJD chief Tejashwi Yadav among others. The letter however excludes AAP and BSP.
It comes a day after BJP president JP Nadda took potshots at Sonia Gandhi, accusing her party of misleading people by “opposing lockdowns and then demanding for the same” as well as ignoring Centre’s COVID-19 protocols on the second wave and creating panic among people.
In a reply to this, the Opposition in the letter said the Centre has been cold-shouldering its past suggestions, given both independently and jointly, and that the response has only “compounded the situation to reach such an apocalyptic human tragedy”.