Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday criticised the Centre for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to surge in the country.

In a tweet, Gandhi said that the Centre’s strategy to tackle the pandemic is comprised of three stages. The first one, he said, is to impose a “Tughlaqi lockdown”. Gandhi was referring to the countrywide lockdown imposed in March in an attempt to contain the spread of the infection.

The Opposition had criticised the countrywide lockdown, saying it was the strictest in the world. The countrywide lockdown, imposed on March 25, 2020, had triggered a humanitarian crisis for India’s workforce. Lakhs of migrant labourers spilled out of big cities, with thousands of them walking hundreds of kilometres to reach home as the scope of a livelihood vanished. Some died on the way due to illnesses, while others were killed in road accidents. Many died of exhaustion after walking home in the scorching heat.

In his tweet on Friday, Gandhi said the Centre’s second step to tackle the pandemic was to “ring bells”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on March 22 asked citizens to ring bells or bang their utensils, to show support for the frontline workers. The third step, he added, was to “sing praises of the lord”, he tweeted.

Gandhi’s statement came on the day India reported 2,17,353 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 1,42,91,917. The country is hit by a massive second wave of infections and this is the highest figure recorded so far since the pandemic began in January 2020. The toll increased to 1,74,308 with 1,185 deaths, the highest since September 19.

India is currently the second-worst affected country in the world in terms of the number of Covid-19 infections and fourth-worst in fatalities. Friday is the second straight day that India has recorded over 2 lakh cases and the sixth consecutive day of over 1.5 lakh daily cases.

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