“Take Care, Government Is Busy”: Rahul Gandhi On Covid, Monetisation

Rahul Gandhi tweeted on COVID-19 and the NMP on Thursday (File)

New Delhi:

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Thursday took a two-for-one swipe at the government – over the “worrying” Covid situation and slow pace of vaccinations and the National Monetisation Pipeline announced earlier this week by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“Rising Covid numbers are worrying. Vaccination must pick up pace to avoid serious outcomes in the next wave. Please take care of yourselves because GOI (Government of India) is busy with sales,” Mr Gandhi tweeted.

Mr Gandhi has been critical of several aspects of the government’s handling of the pandemic, including a national vaccination drive hampered by a lack of doses, questions over vaccine pricing and the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, particularly on economically weaker sections.

He has also questioned the government’s inability to compensate families for losing their primary earner to COVID-19, pointing out it makes “Rs 4 lakh crore from petrol and diesel (price hikes)”.

More recently, Mr Gandhi also criticised plans to monetise under-utilised brownfield assets from a variety of sectors to raise an estimated Rs 6 lakh crore over the next four years.

He slammed the government over these announcements, accusing it of selling these assets now to cover up its mismanagement of the economy. He said the scheme would only benefit “2 to 3 private players”, and that it would have a “huge impact on the future of this country”.

The Congress leader has often attacked the Prime Minister over alleged ties with business houses, zeroing-in on the likes of the Adani group and the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries.

India reported over 46,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the government said this morning. Daily case numbers continue to hover around the 33,000-mark amid fear of a third wave, and repeated warnings from experts that it is critical to increase the pace of vaccination.

There have also been fears that a third wave could affect children more than adults.

However, a report by the National Institute of Disaster Management (which functions under the Union Home Ministry) has said there is little current evidence to support this claim.

The NIDM report did, though, warn there is still “cause for worry, if not panic” so long as children remain unvaccinated and existing paediatric facilities remain inadequate.

Vaccination for children is expected only in October, the government’s immunisation group chief Dr NK Arora said today. Overall, around 60 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far, but the rate is well below the target – to inoculate at least 60 per cent of the population by the end of the year.

Last month Mr Gandhi and then Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan sparred over supply of vaccines, which has emerged as a major flashpoint between the government and the opposition.

In June Mr Gandhi released a white paper to help the government prep for a third wave. In it he stressed that the “central pillar” of the Covid response plan must be “100 per cent vaccination”.

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