In yet another strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has blamed the Centre’s “lack of a clear and coherent Covid and vaccination strategy” and its “hubris in declaring premature victory” over the pandemic for the currently raging coronavirus infections across the country.
Rahul Gandhi said that the extent of the Covid pandemic – there were over 4.14 lakh infections reported across India yesterday alone, the highest single-day spike across the globe – is “currently on the verge of overwhelming all of our systems”. The Congress leader added that the central government’s “failures have made another devastating national lockdown almost inevitable.”
The letter, like his earlier ones to the Prime Minister, also makes some suggestions for containing the pandemic that has claimed over 2.34 lakh lives in the past year, with 3915 fatalities added to this figure in the past 24 hours. Gandhi implores Modi to also “understand India’s responsibility in a globalized and interconnected world,” and says, “the pandemic has demonstrated that our size, genetic diversity, and complexity make India fertile ground for the virus to rapidly mutate, transforming itself into a more contagious and more dangerous form. The double and triple mutant strains that we are currently grappling with are only the beginning, I fear.”
Among the suggestions that Gandhi makes for combating the ongoing devastation are the need to scientifically track the virus and its mutations across the country using genome sequencing, assess the efficacy of all vaccines against mutations, rapidly vaccinate India’s entire population, and “be transparent and keep the rest of the world informed about our findings”.
Gandhi has repeated his earlier demand for the government to “act with compassion and provide critical financial and food support to our most vulnerable people… be ready with a transportation strategy for those who will require it” should another nationwide lockdown be imposed.
The current letter is in line with Gandhi and the Congress party’s public stand of regularly informing the government about ground realities about the pandemic and offering constructive suggestions to deal with the situation. Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul have repeatedly written various letters to Modi offering advice and suggestions on ways to contain the pandemic, alleviate the pain and suffering it has caused, and other related issues.
While the initial response of the government to these letters has almost always been dismissive – as was seen when Union health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan mocked Dr. Singh over the suggestions he had made or when Ravi Shankar Prasad accused Rahul Gandhi of corporate lobbying for suggesting that the Centre immediately approve other foreign vaccines for use in India. However, despite Modi refraining from acknowledging the letters by the Congress leaders or publicly commenting on the suggestions made by them, the Centre has invariably adopted the advice given by Sonia, Dr. Singh, and Rahul on several matters in recent months.