New Delhi: Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday wrote a four-page letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and extended her party’s full cooperation in the nationwide lockdown, but demanded protection aid/equipment to medics and health workers and implement its proposed Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay scheme) to contain the economic distress.
“I would like to re-emphasise the urgent need to arm our doctors, nurses, and other health workers with personal protection equipment, including N-95 masks and hazardous materials suit (hazmat suits),” wrote Sonia Gandhi, while welcoming the 21-day lockdown.
She also asked the government to implement the Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme, ‘Nyay Yojana’, proposed by the Congress which, she said, was the need of the hour.
She said: “Alternately, a cash transfer of Rs 7,500 to every Jan Dhan account holder, PM Kisan Yojana account holder, all old-age/widow/differently abled persons pension account, MGNREGA worker’s accounts, as one-time special measure to tide over the 21-day lockdown be considered.”
Sonia Gandhi suggested that the distribution of free 10kg rice or wheat per family member to every ration card holder through the PDS be also taken up as a special measure.
The Congress leader emphasised that in this harvest season the farmers’ produce should be purchased immediately and all recovery of loans suspended.
In her letter, she pointed out that coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping across the world had caused serious public health concerns, anguish, and apprehensions.
“It has imperiled lives and put at risk the lives and livelihood of millions, particularly, the most vulnerable sections of our society. The entire nation stands as one in solidarity in the fight to halt and defeat the corona pandemic.
“Ensure the opening and scaling up of manufacture of personal protection equipment. Announce a special ‘risk allowance’ for doctors, nurses and health workers for six months from March 1 onwards.
“As President of the Indian National Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taken by the Union government to ensure the containment of the pandemic,” wrote Sonia Gandhi.
“Salaried class employees are also bearing the brunt of the harsh measures required to contain the spread of the disease, and the government may consider deferring all EMIs for six months. The interest charged by the banks for this period may consequently be waived.
“All businesses, particularly the Micro, Small & Medium businesses, have been facing unprecedented distress even before the onset of the pandemic. The pandemic has increased their distress manifold. The Union government must consider announcing a comprehensive sector-wise relief package, including necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities,” she wrote.