Congress and leaders of 21 other opposition parties on Friday targeted the BJP-led government over its handling of COVID-19 situation, saying "economy has collapsed and all sections of society face acute distress" and raised 11 demands including direct cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month to all families outside the income tax bracket for six months.
In a joint statement, the leaders accused the government of "unabashedly usurping powers vested in the states undermining the constitutionally guaranteed federal democracy".
They said the Rs. 20 lakh crore package and its contents "mislead the people of India".
"We demand that government present a revised and comprehensive package that will be a true fiscal stimulus in order to stimulate demand in the economy. Present a clear and meaningful economic strategy focused on revival and poverty alleviation instead of propaganda," the statement said.
The leaders said opposition parties represent over 60 per cent of India's people and urged the central government to listen to their demands.
"Direct Cash Transfer of Rs. 7,500 per month to all families, outside the Income Tax bracket, for six months. Rs. 10,000/- to be paid immediately, with the balance being paid equally across the remaining five months," the statement said.
They also demanded free distribution of 10 kg food grains to all needy individuals, each month for the next six months and increasing the number of MGNREGA work days to 200 and provide the necessary budgetary support.
Briefing reporters, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said the opposition leaders also sought free transportation for all migrant workers to their native places.
They sought immediate and reliable arrangements to rescue all Indian students and other citizens stranded overseas.
The statement said the like-minded parties have, as always, extended their full cooperation to the Union Government.
"But sadly, we have to point out that the Union Government has failed in discharging its responsibilities in a timely, effective and sensitive manner. Grand announcements have been made but they do nothing meaningful to alleviate the sufferings of people and address the pressing concerns of farmers and farm labour, of migrant and other workers, of trade and commerce, MSMEs and industry. In fact, Union Government has unabashedly usurped powers vested in the States undermining the constitutionally guaranteed federal democracy," the statement said.
The statement said that this is neither the time for Government at the Centre to indulge in showmanship nor one-upmanship.
"This is the time for a gigantic collective endeavour. This is what the people of India need, and this is what the people of India demand. It is important that the Government of India reaches out and engages in a dialogue with all political parties in a systematic manner, listen seriously to the suggestions that we have to make, activate Parliamentary institutions like Standing Committees and be genuine in helping the states financially and otherwise," the statement said.
The leaders said the government should provide accurate and relevant information on COVID-19 infections and goalposts vis-a-vis testing, infrastructure and containing spread.
They demanded the reversal of "all unilateral policy decisions particularly the annulment of labour laws".
The leaders said rabi harvest should be procured immediately at the MSP and said the government should provide assistance for the produce to reach the market.
"The Government must also provide seeds, fertilisers and other inputs to the farmers to help prepare for the kharif crop," they said.
The leaders sought the release of substantial funds to state governments who are in the frontline of combating the pandemic.
"Communicate in clear terms, the Central Government's exit strategy from the lockdown, if any," the leaders said and demanded the restoration of Parliamentary functioning and oversight with immediate effect.
They said state governments should be consulted while allowing international or domestic flights.
The statement said the parties met today to exchange views on the "extraordinary situation in the country arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic".
"The economy has collapsed. All sections of society face acute distress. Livelihoods have been destroyed. Lives have been lost," they said.
The parties applauded "the heroic efforts of all public health personnel, particularly doctors, nurses, paramedics as also police and security forces personnel, safai karamacharis and those maintaining essential services like water, power etc. in the challenging times, across the country".
"They have shown extraordinary courage and dedication. We are humbled by their devotion to duty at a time of grave peril to their own lives," the leaders said. (ANI)