Lockdown imperative

The role of the Opposition parties during such an extraordinary situation facing the country today is to offer to assist the government. The unprecedented health pandemic requires extraordinary measures and the lockdown was necessary to stop the spread of the Corona virus that has brought the world to its feet. This is no less than a war and in such a situation political parties should fight together as one and not against each other. But Congress President Sonia Gandhi went all out to attack the NDA Government at the Centre over the manner in which it responded to the pandemic. Sonia Gandhi said the lockdown was implemented in an ‘unplanned manner causing chaos and pain.’ It is a fact that the suddenness of the lockdown threw life for many out of gear. People were stranded at different places. Visitors from abroad were caught unawares. And the exodus of lakhs of migrant workers who were then stranded at the Delhi-UP border because buses and trains had stopped operating was a monumental governance failure. That the Government did not anticipate this shows a planning deficit at the level of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). An all party brainstorming might have elicited viewpoints that would have helped reduce the crises. After all, the Parliament comprising both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are expected to have the best brains in the country, some with many years of experience in governance.

A lockdown that spans 21 days is not without its agonies. Mental health cases have reportedly gone up. Social isolation is not a normal thing but neither is the pandemic normal. Circumstances demand that we observe the physical distancing protocol. The Congress Party should not use this opportunity for scoring political points because people will not forgive it for standing on the sidelines to critique what the Government is doing instead of extending a helping hand. By helping the Government the Congress would be helping the 1.3 billion Indians to overcome this dark phase in the life of the country.

It is perhaps to lighten the public mood and build solidarity that Prime Minister Modi suggested a 9 minute darkening of homes and lighting of candles or diyas or mobile phone torches on April 5 at 9 PM to help create the spirit of oneness in the country. The Prime Minister has, however, cautioned that the social distancing norm must be strictly maintained.

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