Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday expressed concern about rising coronavirus cases and took a dig at the Centre, saying that it was “busy with sales.”
“Rising COVID numbers are worrying,” Gandhi said in a tweet. “Vaccination must pick up pace to avoid serious outcomes in the next wave. Please take care of yourselves because GOI is busy with sales.”
His comment came three days after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the National Monetisation Pipeline. Under the initiative, the government aims to raise Rs 6 lakh crore over a four-year period till 2025 by leasing out state-owned infrastructure in various sectors including, power, road and railways, to private entities.
Gandhi has sharply criticised the proposal on multiple occasions since Sitharaman’s announcement. On Wednesday as well, he posted a tweet castigating the Centre on the subject. “First they sold their conscience, and now...#IndiaOnSale,” he said.
At a press briefing on August 24, Gandhi alleged that the Centre was selling the country’s assets to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “industrialist friends”.
The Congress leader further claimed that the plan was meant to create monopolies in key sectors and said the move would result in fewer jobs.
Gandhi’s comments on Thursday about the Covid-19 situation have come as India recorded 46,164 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours – 22.7% higher than the previous day’s case count. A total of 607 deaths were also reported in the country in the past 24 hours.
On Thursday, Kerala alone accounted for 68% of the total infections in the past day. The positivity rate in the state stood at 19.03%. For over a month, Kerala has reported the highest number of cases among all states.
Gandhi is a member of Parliament from the Wayanad constituency in Kerala.
India has so far administered 60.38 crore vaccine doses. Of this, 80,40,407 shots were provided on Wednesday alone.
The vaccination programme, however, has suffered hiccups due to vaccine shortages. Last month, the state governments in Delhi and Odisha announced that several vaccination centres had to remain shut due to the non-availability of vaccines.
National Monetisation Pipeline
The National Monetisation Pipeline was announced on Tuesday to provide a framework to monetise the assets and give investors a list of such properties to generate investment interest, the Hindustan Times reported. The plan came up on the basis of insights and feedback from stakeholders undertaken by planning body NITI Aayog and the finance ministry.
Sitharaman has said that the ownership of the assets leased under the plan would remain with the government and that private entities will have to return the asset after a decided period of time, according to NDTV.
Assets of roads, railways and power sectors make up to 66% of the total estimated value of properties that will be monetised. The remaining will come from other sectors including aviation, telecom, ports, warehouses, mining, stadiums and natural gas and petroleum product pipelines.