New Delhi, May 22 : Accusing the NDA government of failing to alleviate the suffering of farmers, migrants and other workers, leaders of 22 Opposition parties on Friday demanded the government to provide more funds to the states, direct cash transfer to the poor and free return of migrants to home states, besides devising a clear exit strategy from Lockdown 4.0.
In a virtual meeting held through video-conferencing, top leaders of opposition parties, under the leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said the Union Government has failed in discharging its responsibilities in a timely, effective and sensitive manner.
''Acutely conscious of the magnitude of this crisis, the like-minded parties have, as always, extended their full cooperation to the Union Government. But sadly, we have to point out that the Union Government has failed in discharging its responsibilities in a timely, effective and sensitive manner. ''Grand announcements have been made but they do nothing meaningful to alleviate the sufferings of people and address the pressing concerns of farmers and farm labour, of migrant and other workers, of trade and commerce, MSMEs and industry.
''In fact, the Union Government has unabashedly usurped powers vested in the States undermining the constitutionally guaranteed federal democracy,'' the leaders, including Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, West Bengal chief Minister Mamata Banerjee , Jharkhand chief Minister Hemant Soren, Nationlist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Janata Dal (Secular) chief H D Devegowda and general secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) Sitaram Yechury, said.
Calling on the government to engage in a Dialogue with opposition parties without indulging in ‘showmanship or one-upmanship, the opposition said, ''the like-minded parties believe that this is neither the time for Government at the Centre to indulge in showmanship nor one upmanship. This is the time for a gigantic collective endeavour. This is what the people of India need, and this is what the people of India demand. It is important that the Government of India reaches out and engages in a dialogue with all political parties in a systematic manner, listen seriously to the suggestions that we have to make, activate Parliamentary institutions like Standing Committees and be genuine in helping the states financially and otherwise.'' The opposition parties put forth a set of 11 demands to the government including more funds to states, direct cash transfer to the poor, free return of migrants to home states and devising clear exit strategy from lockdown.
''Opposition parties represent over 60 percent of India’s people. We, therefore, appeal to the Union Government to listen and consider the following 11 demands which include Direct Cash Transfer of Rs. 7,500/- per month to all families, outside the Income Tax bracket, for six months- Rs. 10,000/- to be paid immediately, with the balance being paid equally across the remaining five months: Free distribution of 10 kg food grains to all needy individuals, each month for the next six months: Increase the number of MGNREGA work days to 200 and provide the necessary budgetary support: Free transportation for all migrant workers to their native places: immediate and reliable arrangements to rescue all Indian students and other citizens stranded overseas:.Provide accurate and relevant information on Covid-19 infections and goalposts vis-à-vis testing, infrastructure and containing spread:Reverse all unilateral policy decisions particularly the annulment of labour laws:Procure immediately the rabi harvest at the MSP and provide assistance for the produce to reach the market:Release substantial funds to the state governments who are in the frontline of combating the pandemic: Communicate in clear terms, the Central Government’s exit strategy from the lockdown, if any:Restore Parliamentary functioning and oversight with immediate effect and Present a clear and meaningful economic strategy focused on revival and poverty alleviation instead of propaganda.
Terming the Rs. 20 lakh crore package and its contents as an attempt to mislead the people of India, the opposition demanded that government present a revised and comprehensive package that will be a true fiscal stimulus in order to stimulate demand in the economy They also called on the state governments to consult State Governments while allowing international/ domestic flights. This was the first such meeting in nearly three months since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic . The meeting, which was held online video conferencing on Friday afternoon, was however given a miss by two key opposition party leaders from Uttar Pradesh – Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav. In a series of tweets after the meeting, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said,''the like-minded parties believe that this is neither the time for showmanship nor one-upmanship. This is the time for a collective endeavour to bring India out of this crisis. This is what the people of India need and this is what the people of India demand.''
Apart from this, the opposition parties also discussed the current situation due to Cyclone Amphan particularly in the two key affected states of West Bengal and Odisha. The opposition parties passed a resolution in the meeting demanding that the union government should immediately declare it as a national calamity and aid states in relief and rehabilitation work. (UNI)