Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin on Sunday slammed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami as a meek leader who did not have the guts to take a decision on his own on extending the lockdown and was waiting at the Centre's nod .
He had shown the same meekness in fighting for adequate Central financial assistance and for the supply of personal protection equipment like ventilators and surgical masks to protect doctors and nurses and other paramedical personnel., he charged .
In a strongly worded statement, Stalin said the Chief Minister failed to get much needed Central assistance. He also asked what happened to the four lakh rapid test kits it had ordered from a Chinese firm which were due to arrive on April 8.
Chief Secretary K Shanmugham, reflecting the Government’s weak response, explained away the delay by saying that the consignment was sent to the US. He further said that though the Tamil Nadu Government placed orders early enough, the US firm might have been ahead of the queue. He said the Chinese firm had promised to send at least 50,000 kits to begin with in the next consignment.
France and Italy have protested against what they call diversion of consignments meant for them to the US and promised to take it up at the Government level. But the Government of India has not reacted so far though the Union Health Secretary was the first to break the news about the non-arrival of the test kits ordered for by the Centre as well as several States.
The Chief Secretary tried to soft pedal the issue by saying that rapid test for anti-bodies was only the first stage and the final and fool-proof test was PCR in which the virus is directly tested.
Stalin, who earlier said Tamil Nadu was not doing enough tests and thereby projecting a misleading picture, seized upon this issue to lambast the Government.
On the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interaction with State Chief Ministers, Stalin said Edappadi Palanisami should announce the proposed extension of lockdown beforehand so as to prepare the people for it.
In his statement, he said Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Punjab and Orissa extended the lockdodwn till April 30 without waiting for the Centre’s announcement. Edappadi Palanisami even after the Prime Minister’s interaction, did not have the guts to take a call on his own. Thereby he compromised on the State’s federal rights.
He said Palanisami had shown the same meekness in fighting for adequate Central assistance to tide over the crisis caused by the prolonged lockdown clamped to fight Coronavirus.
The Chief Minister asked for Rs 9,000 crore aid first and sought another Rs 3,200 crore later. But the Centre had given only a mere Rs 500 crore plus so far, he said.
He reiterated that the State Government should enhance the cash relief to below poverty line families from the present Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 a month as the lockdown was set to be extended beyond April 14 and be in force till month.