Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Sunday criticised the Centre for its “utter mismanagement” of the coronavirus crisis. Tharoor said that India had the “worst of both worlds” since the government had neither managed to keep coronavirus cases in control nor keep the economy afloat.

“We have the worst of both worlds,” Tharoor said while participating in a debate about the coronavirus crisis in the Lok Sabha, according to ANI. “We have neither managed to limit the spread of the virus nor have we managed to keep the economy afloat. The GDP [gross domestic product] for the first time in 41 years will actually shrink.”

Tharoor added that the health crisis had exacerbated India’s unemployment problem and destroyed small businesses.

The Congress MP said there was a need for “clearly communicated protocol” and a comprehensive plan to deal with the escalating health crisis, but that the country has only witnessed a lack of clarity.

Tharoor also criticised the Centre for not taking suggestions from Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi on how to handle the crisis. “The failure to adequately recognise the scale and complexity of the problem the nation was dealing with, compounded their unwillingness to listen to the voices that warned well in advance of the consequences of ignoring the problem of such magnitude,” he said according to PTI.

The Congress MP hit out at the government for the way it implemented the nationwide lockdown. “Even though the people of this country were given three days notice before locking down for a mere 17-hour Janata Curfew on a Sunday when most individuals spend a lot of time at home anyway, a trial for a longer national lockdown, what followed was horrific,” he said, according to ANI.

Tharoor added: “The Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] in his address to residents of his constituency likened the disaster he had unleashed upon the nation to Kurukshetra. He said that the Mahabharath took 18 days before victory was earned and that tackling the COVID-19 will take 21 days – 180 days have passed, our national caseload is the second-largest in the world... Daily cases have nearly reached a lakh. The economy is in tatters having suffered a contraction far more severe than any other country.”

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Dayanidhi Maran, Trinamool Congress’ Kalyan Banerjee and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant also joined Tharoor in criticising the government for its handling of the pandemic.

BJP member Kirit Solanki, meanwhile, highlighted the government’s welfare schemes for the poor and said that the Centre was taking efficient steps to deal with the crisis, like extensive testing. Hitting out at Rahul Gandhi, Solanki said “a leader” was tweeting on ways to deal with the virus while being absent from House proceedings.

India has reported 54,87,581 coronavirus cases and 87,882 deaths so far.

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