NEW DELHI: '' The most important need is to rapidly expand vaccination coverage & ensure that no eligible citizen gets left out. INC stands prepared to work with the Union government in this most important and urgent of tasks,'' Interim President of the Congree Party Sonia Gandhi said, ahead of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) Meeting on Monday. This was the first meeting after April 17.
In a message to the senior members of the CWC she said that, in these past four weeks, the Covid-19 situation has become even more catastrophic. Governance failures have become even starker. Scientific advice has been willfully ignored and the country is paying a horrendous price for the Modi government’s neglect of the pandemic, indeed its willful patronage of super-spreader events that were allowed for partisan gains. A far deadlier second wave has now overwhelmed us. Some scientists have now cautioned about a third wave overtaking us soon. Some states have already announced a complete lockdown.
The public health system across the country has all but collapsed. Vaccination coverage is woefully short of need and not expanding at the rate at which it must. The Modi government has abdicated its responsibility. It has obliged the states to bear the cost of vaccinating the hundreds of millions in the 18 to 45 age group. Every expert has said that it would have made more sense and it would have been financially more equitable for the Centre to bear the costs. But we know the Modi government has other priorities, pursuing grandiose projects against the force of public opinion and the face of widespread criticism. It is also a shame that the Central government continues to discriminate against Opposition-ruled states, she said.
Over the past few weeks, the international community has rushed to our assistance. On behalf of the Indian National Congress, I wish to thank all countries and organizations who are helping us in so many different ways. That we should be placed in such a position reflects the monumental arrogance, incompetence and vain triumphalism of the ruling establishment.
Since we met last, our party organization has geared itself to extend relief and provide assistance in the best traditions of public service. The AICC’s COVID control room has prepared a detailed blueprint. Similar COVID relief control rooms have been set up at the State level. Efforts have been be made to organize ambulances, temporary beds, oxygen concentrators and medicines. I want to make particular mention of the Indian Youth Congress. It has been exemplary in its efforts and outreach. In the CPP meeting three days ago, a number of our MPs told us how they are helping in their respective areas in reaching out to those in need. However, I am conscious of the fact that we must ensure a better coordination of these efforts so that they can be as effective as possible.
We are in an unprecedented public health emergency. We have repeatedly urged the Modi government to call an all-party meeting to demonstrate national will and resolve. Three days ago I spelt out what we believe needs to be done right away to meet the challenge. I won’t repeat what I said, but I will say that the single most important need is to rapidly expand vaccination coverage and ensure that no eligible citizen gets left out. I have said before and I would like to repeat it: The Indian National Congress stands prepared to work with the Union government in this most important and urgent of tasks.
The CWC meeting has been convened to discuss the recent election results. We have to take note of our serious setbacks. To say that we are deeply disappointed is to make an understatement. I intend to set up a small group to look at every aspect that caused such reverses and report back very quickly. We need to candidly understand why in Kerala and Assam we failed to dislodge the incumbent governments, and why in West Bengal we drew a complete blank. These will yield uncomfortable lessons, but if we do not face up to the reality, if we do not look the facts in the face, we will not draw the right lessons.
We will begin by hearing our Chief Ministers on the covid situation. After that, our General Secretaries - Jitender Singh for Assam, Tariq Anwar for Kerala, in charge Dinesh Gundurao for Tamil Nadu & Puducherry and Jitin Prasada for West Bengal - can make their presentations. I expect them to brief us very frankly on our performance in their respective states. We want them to tell us why we performed well below expectation. These results tell us clearly that we need to put our house in order. Finally, we can discuss the election of the Congress President the procedure which should be completed by the end of June, she said.