The Congress has called a video conference meeting of the Opposition parties on Friday to discuss the the Narendra Modi-led government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, PTI reported. This came nearly two months after the Centre announced a lockdown on March 24 and days after a Rs 20 lakh crore economic package was announced.
The meeting, to be held at 3 pm on Friday, will be chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Other items in the agenda include the migrant crisis triggered by the lockdown, the states’ suspension of labour laws, and the freeze on the activities of the various Parliamentary committees which function even when the Parliament is not in session, according to NDTV.
Eighteen parties have been invited for the meeting. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin have confirmed their participation. “Yes, there will be a meeting of opposition parties on Friday evening through videoconferencing to discuss the present Covid situation and the lockdown impact,” Banerjee told PTI. “I will be there.”
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party will follow every possible option to ensure there is a legislative oversight.
An unidentified Trinamool Congress leader blamed the government’s sudden imposition of the lockdown for the migrant workers’ crisis. “The way the Centre had been trying to pin the blame on states for everything is unacceptable,” he told the news agency. “Like-minded opposition parties will meet via video conference on Friday at 3 pm to discuss the next steps that could be taken to deal with the crisis in a better way.”
Another leader, on condition of anonymity, told NDTV that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have made the Opposition “immobile”.
After 56 days of the lockdown, the Centre urged states on Tuesday to operate more special trains to transport stranded migrant workers by “proactive coordination” with the Railway Ministry. It also said that the local administration should designate resting points on routes where migrants were known to be walking with adequate facilities for sanitation, food and healthcare.
The lockdown left hundreds of thousands of migrant workers stranded in the places of their work. Millions of them are still walking, cycling, dangerously hitchhiking home, sometimes over distances of more than 1,000 km, often on empty stomachs. More than 170 people have died in accidents on the way.