All major political parties in Maharashtra, including the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for lighting candles, lamps or mobile torches tomorrow at 9pm.
Leading the charge, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut referred to the March 22 call asking people to clap and beat plates in praise of the medical fraternity fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When people were asked to clap, they crowded the roads and beat drums. I just hope now they don’t burn down their own houses,” said Raut.
The Sena leader said “we will light the lamps but people want to know what the government is doing to improve their condition.”
The ruling Nationalist Congress Party’s Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik also came down heavily on Modi questioning the need for such a move in the face of a massive challenge confronting the nation.
“The whole world is fighting a battle against Covid-19. Governments, doctors, scientists, paramedics are dropping everything else and focused on this. And the PM of India asks people to light lamps and candles. Is this some kind of a joke,” said Awhad.
“Huge financial packages are announced, production of necessary medical equipments is in full swing, poor and marginalised are being looked after in other countries, R&D laboratories are burning the midnight oil to invent a vaccine or antidote. And the prime minister of India is asking people to light lamps and candles,” said Awhad, who holds the housing portfolio.
“The people expected him to speak on what measures the Centre has taken for combating the Covid-19 pandemic, but were instead told to light lamps,” Malik said.
State Congress president and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said that “after the clapping, now the PM is presenting the lighting of lamps event”.
“The country doesn’t need an event, it needs hospitals, ventilators and testing labs to fight Covid-19, a livelihood package for daily wagers and migrant workers. Stop these PR stunts and take some firm steps,” said Thorat.
Terming it a “gimmick” to hide the government’s failures on the economic and farmers’ front, the All India Kisan Sabha president Ashok Dhawale demanded protection to millions of stranded migrants, safeguards for the health of the medical fraternity, increase testing rapidly, providing an adequate relief package and care for those on the verge of hunger deaths.
Calling upon Modi to get “serious”, state Samajwadi president Abu Asim Azmi said that such ‘theatrics’ will not do any good when people are dying of hunger.
“Its high time you stop taking things so lightly and do some serious work. People are dying of hunger, there is tremendous fear and panic, address these issues first. Immediately transfer cash to poor, set up 24x7 kitchens and better hospitals across the country,” Azmi urged.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have supported the Sunday move and opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis posted the PM’s video and poster appeals to the masses to join the April 5 event.
The PM’s call evoked mixed, often extreme reactions, memes and cartoons from supporters and opponents, leading to slanging matches on social media circles.
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