New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government at the centre for its response to the coronavirus crisis, blaming it for a “failed lockdown” as he compared India’s nationwide shutdown to those in other countries.
The central government had imposed the lockdown, dubbed the world’s biggest, in late March and has extended it several times before announcing a staggered exit starting next Monday. The Health Ministry’s data, however, has shown a dramatic rise in the number COVID-19 cases and deaths in recent days.
Mr Gandhi tweeted five graphs that showed how lockdowns in European countries had helped bring down the number of daily cases but in India, the surge remained unabated and the decision to lift the restrictions come at a time when the growth is at an all-time high.
For weeks, Rahul Gandhi has critiqued the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent lockdown and the devastating effects on India’s poor.
In early February, around two weeks after India reported its first coronavirus case and while the government was preparing a dazzling visit for US President Donald Trump, Mr Gandhi had said PM Modi’s administration was not taking the “extremely serious threat” seriously.
With restrictions being eased over the past few weeks and more due in the coming days, India has seen a surge in COVID-19 numbers. While the country reported its first 1,000 deaths due to coronavirus in 48 days of the pandemic, now the same number is reported in around four days.
At 2.26 lakh cases and over 6,300 deaths, India now ranks as the 7th worst-hit nation in terms of cases and 12th in deaths – greater on both counts than China where the deadly virus emerged late last year.
The government’s nationwide lockdown – announced abruptly two months after the first cases emerged – has also been blamed for leaving lakhs of poor and migrant workers without access to income, food or shelter.