Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi supporting the 21-day nation-wide lockdown that has been put in place to curb coronavirus. She said that the lockdown is a "welcome step" while also suggesting health and economic measures should be taken to flight coronavirus.
"As president of the Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taking by the union government to ensure the containment of the pandemic," Sonia Gandhi wrote in the four-page letter. "At this challenging and uncertain time, it is imperative for each one of us to rise above partisan interests and honour one's duty towards our country and indeed, towards humanity," added Gandhi.
The Congress President has also said that the party extends its full support and cooperation to the government.
Sonia Gandhi suggested that the centre should consider deferring all EMI payments for the next few months and also waive interests charged by banks for this period. She added that the government should immediately put in place several social protection measures which should include direct cash transfers to daily wage workers, MNREGA workers, construction workers, farmers and others part of the informal sector.
The Congress President recommended her party's NYAY scheme for minimum income support, she called it "the need of the hour". She said that the implementation of the scheme will provide the poor with basic economic resources to fall back on.
"Alternatively, 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, MNREGA worker's accounts, as a one-time special measure to tide over the 21-day lockdown period should be considered," she wrote.
Sonia Gandhi said that 10 kg of rice and wheat should be distributed to ration cardholders free of charge during the lockdown. She also suggested a sector-wise relief package for all sectors severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The deadly COVID-19 virus has claimed 13 lives in India so far, taking the positive cases to 649, including 593 active cases. The Maharashtra tally has reached 121, including three deaths. Gujarat too has reported three deaths. Delhi has also seen the number going up to 36, while one patient has died so far.