Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi supporting 21-day national lockdown as “welcome step”

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi supporting the 21-day national lockdown as a “welcome step” while suggesting economic and health measures in the fight against 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.”
The Congress party, she said, extended to the government “our full support and cooperation”.
The Congress chief suggested that the centre consider deferring all EMIs for 6 months and waive interests charged by banks for this period.
She also said the government should “immediately put in place broad-based social protection measures including direct cash transfers” to daily wagers, MNREGA workers, factor workers, construction workers, farmers and others in the unorganized sector.
Sonia Gandhi also recommended her party’s NYAY scheme for minimum income support as the “need of the hour”, to give the poor a basic economic resource 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.
The Congress president said 10 kg of rice or wheat could be distributed to ration card holders free of cost during this period.
She also suggested a sector-wise relief package for business badly hit by the pandemic. The tone of Sonia Gandhi’s letter suggested a more pragmatic and conciliatory approach by the opposition party amid the nationwide battle to contain coronavirus. Her son Rahul Gandhi, former Congress chief, has been more aggressive in his tweets, accusing the government of underestimating the threat.