Bhubaneswar: Union home minister Amit Shah on Monday said India was comparatively in a better position due to the steps it has taken to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic even as he criticised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for questioning the government management of the situation. He said Gandhi has done nothing to fight Covid-19 except conducting interviews.
“Some opposition leaders are questioning us as to how we handled the Covid-19 pandemic. We may have faulted somewhere and maybe short of expectations, but there was never a lack of sincerity. People are discussing in English about India’s fight against coronavirus in Sweden and America. Please give an account of what you have done except giving interviews,” said Shah in his address from New Delhi to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and supporters in Odisha.
He was referring to a series of video conversations Gandhi has held with global and Indian thought leaders to discuss the Covid-19 crisis and its consequences on the country’s economy. In the latest such interaction, Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj told Gandhi that the lockdown to flatten the Covid-19 curve ended up flattening the “wrong curve” of the economic growth. Bajaj said India’s lockdown strategy was influenced by the West despite being an Asian country.
Shah said the government has fought the pandemic along with 1.3 billion Indians and that is why India is among those countries, which have fared better in dealing with coronavirus. “At the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 130 crore [1.3 billion] people stayed indoors and co-operated with his vision to fight the pandemic. When the history of epidemics is written, the one on janta curfew will be written in golden letters no matter who writes it. I have never seen that kind of response to a public curfew,” Shah said at the virtual rally.
He said the government announced Rs 1.7 lakh crore package for 600 million people when the Covid-19 crisis emerged in March. “When the disease reached India, Modi fought the pandemic in a strange way. After independence, many epidemics and natural disasters came. It was generally seen that governments used to take responsibility. However, our government took people along in such a way that the government fought the health crisis while simultaneously 130 crore people came forward to fight it,” he said.
Shah said when Modi came to power, 70 million families had no bank accounts. “Under the Jan Dhan Yojana, 310 million bank accounts were opened. During the lockdown, the Modi government sent Rs 53,000 crore to crores of Indians to help them during these times. Many disasters came. The Congress did nothing except holding interviews,” he said. Shah added BJP workers fed over 110 million people during the pandemic.
Shah conceded that migrant workers, including those from Odisha, faced difficulties while returning home but the government ensured that they eventually reached home. “Migrant workers initially faced problems but the government was more concerned about their safety from Covid-19. Modi started running Shramik Special trains from May 1 to take migrants home,” he said.