Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday urged the central government to evolve a national policy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. She stressed upon the need to forge a consensus among all political parties about the policy.

In a video message, Gandhi reiterated her party’s demand of vaccinating all citizens of the country free of cost. She sought compulsory licensing to ramp up vaccine production to speed up the country’s inoculation drive.

The Congress leader also proposed that the Narendra Modi government should provide financial assistance of Rs 6,000 per month for the poorer sections till the pandemic ends and said that the amount should be directly transferred to their bank accounts.

Gandhi called for increasing testing and checking the black marketing of essential life-saving drugs, besides providing oxygen, medicines and other equipment to hospitals on a war-footing. She also addressed the matter of differential pricing of vaccines and said that the Centre should ensure that manufacturers charge the same amount from all buyers, irrespective of whether it was the state government or the central.

“The current times have shattered humanity, with many states facing shortage of beds, oxygen and life-saving medicines,” Gandhi said, asking citizens to follow coronavirus protocols. She thanked doctors and frontline healthcare workers for their service.

The Congress chief’s message came on a day when India became the first country to report more than four lakh coronavirus cases in a single day. The country reported 4,01,993 cases, pushing the overall count of infections to 1,91,64,969 since the pandemic first broke out in India in January 2020. With 3,523 deaths, the toll climbed to 2,11,853.

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