Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said that a “heartless government” has failed to “protect the dignity” of the poor who have lost their livelihoods because of the countrywide lockdown to flatten the transmission curve of the coronavirus.
In a series of tweets, he said more and more people have run out of cash and are standing in queues for free cooked food. He urged the government to make immediate cash transfers and distribute free foodgrain to the poor. “Only a heartless government will stand by and do nothing,” he said
Chidambaram posed two “economic and moral” questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.“Why cannot government save them from hunger and protect their dignity by transferring cash to every poor family?” he asked. “Why can’t government distribute, free of cost, a small part of the 77 million tonnes of grain with FCI to families who need the grain to feed themselves?”
He said the Centre had failed to provide an answer for either of the two questions.
Later in the day, the former finance minister also urged the government to release uniform figures and highlighted a discrepancy in the tally of Covid-19 cases released by the health minister and by the Indian Council of Medical Research on Saturday.
In a series of tweets, he asked the government to explain the difference in the coronavirus numbers released by the states’ health departments, the Union health ministry and the medical body.
“Numbers of positive cases put out today by the States, by ICMR and by ministry of health are conflicting and confusing. Usually, [the total put out by states] is the highest, followed by ICMR’s numbers, followed by health ministry’s number. Today [on Sunday], it is the other way around,” the senior Congress leader said. “I rely on the dashboard jointly hosted by the health ministry and ICMR. The difference between the dashboard number and ICMR’s number for April 18 is an astonishing 1,573.”
India’s Covid-19 tally as of Sunday morning stood at 15,712 patients, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Of these, 12,974 people are being treated while 507 have died. As many as 2,230 people have recovered so far.