New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday, March 24 said the entire nation was ready to pay heed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's lockdown orders and every citizen should support it, but the party flagged the challenges the poor, daily wagers, farmers and other marginalized section of the society would face during the three-week period. In a series of tweets after the PM's address to the nation, in which Modi announced the country would go into a three-week lockdown from Wednesday, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the right thing to do is for every citizen to support the decision whatever may be the hardships. However, he said he listened to the Prime Minister carefully and was left with "a mix of emotions - relief, vindication, frustration, disappointment, worry, fear etc." "I am certain the PM understands the urgency of announcing a financial package and putting cash in the pockets of the poor, daily workers, agricultural workers, self-employed etc. "Once the package is announced, there are other pressing sectoral problems that have to be addressed. For example, how are the farmers going to harvest their crop beginning April 1?" he asked. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala demanded the government immediately deposits Rs 7,500 each in the bank accounts of the poor, marginalised and pensioners for their subsistence during the lockdown. In a series of tweets, he said the the minimum income guarantee scheme suggested by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is the need of the hour and the Centre should implement it immediately. "The country will fight COVID and even defeat it but it is disheartened at your suggestions. Crisis is the acid test of a leadership but your government is not ready for this," Surjewala said, demanding a loan-waiver for farmers who are due to enter the harvest season soon. The Congress leader questioned the PM on the alleged shortages of personal protective equipment for doctors and health workers who would need protection to manage COVID 19 patients. "What did you do to prevent this pandemic? How will the safety of healthcare workers be ensured? What solution do you have for the potential food crisis that would arise during the lockdown? How will a poor person subsist during the curfew? Surjewala asked in one of the tweets. In a video message posted on Twitter, he said, "Dear Prime Minister Modi Ji, On 22nd March, 2020 at 5:00 PM, all of us clapped for our doctors, our nurses and health professionals who are fighting the coronavirus. But these defenders of our nation do not want 'Thali' mention or 'Taali' mention, they need protection and that is what they are demanding from you. Surjewala asked if the PM knew that India today needs 7,25,000 hazmat suits overall, 60 lakh N-95 masks for the doctors and healthcare professionals. "India needs 1 crore three ply masks immediately. But, none is available and why are these not available?For the Health Ministry and the Textile Ministry, between February 1, 2020 to March 3, 2020, for a period of 31 days, did not even decide specifications for manufacture of these equipment. "This is a gross criminality. And secondly, whatever equipment were available in India up to 5 days ago, that is March 19, 2020, the Commerce Ministry headed by Piyush Goyal, permitted export of this entire thing along with ventilators available in India," he said.
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