NEW DELHI :
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider direct cash transfers to the poor, a six-month suspension of recoveries from farmers, waving off equated monthly instalments (EMIs) for the salaried class for six months and a sector-wise relief package for businesses in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The three-week nationwide lockdown announced by the Union government was a “welcome step", but a lot more needs to be done for those who may lose their livelihoods, particularly the most vulnerable sections, Gandhi said.
“The 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by you as a measure to fight the coronavirus is a welcome step. As the president of the Indian National Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taken by the Union government to ensure the containment of the pandemic," Gandhi said.
It was necessary for everyone to rise above partisan interests to deal with the health crisis, she said.
Gandhi urged Modi to provide healthcare workers with better personal protection equipment and grant them special “risk allowance" for six months. She also called for the construction of temporary facilities with a large number of intensive care units and ventilators on a war footing.
“It has been recently reported that many businesses and companies are laying off and retrenching large numbers of regular and temporary employees. It would be in order for the Union government to immediately put in place broad-based social protection measures, including direct cash transfer, to these sections to tide over the period of difficulty," she said.
The Congress president said the Centre may also look at implementing NYAY, the minimum income guarantee scheme proposed by the Congress in its 2019 election manifesto.
Congress general secretary in charge K.C. Venugopal on Thursday wrote to party functionaries that Gandhi has urged party lawmakers to make contributions from their MPLADS funds for the cause.