Statement of Opposition Political Parties
TWENTY-two opposition parties met on May 22, 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.
The parties applaud 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 these 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.
Acutely conscious of the magnitude of this crisis, 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, commerce, MSMEs and industry. In fact, union government has unabashedly usurped powers vested in the states undermining the constitutionally guaranteed federal democracy.
The like-minded parties believe 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.
Opposition parties represent over 50 per cent of India’s people. We, therefore, appeal to the union government to listen and consider the following demands:
1. 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.
2. Free distribution of 10 kg food grains to all needy individuals, each month for the next six months. Increase the number of MGNREGA days to 200 and provide the necessary budgetary support.
3. Free transportation for all migrant workers to their native places. Also make immediate and reliable arrangements to rescue all Indian students and other citizens stranded overseas.
4. Provide accurate and relevant information on Covid-19 infections and goalposts vis-à-vis testing, infrastructure and containing spread.
5. Reverse all unilateral policy decisions particularly the annulment of labour laws.
6. Procure immediately the rabi harvest at the MSP and 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.
7. Release substantial funds to the state governments who are in the frontline of combating the pandemic.
8. Communicate in clear terms the central government’s exit strategy from the lockdown, if any.
9. Restore parliamentary functioning and oversight with immediate effect.
10. Present a clear and meaningful economic strategy focused on revival and poverty alleviation instead of propaganda. 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.
11. Consult state governments while allowing international/domestic flights in their respective jurisdictions.
Box: Resolution passed in the beginning of the 22 Opposition Parties Meeting on the Death and Devastation Caused by Cyclone
We, the opposition parties extend our sympathy and support to the government and people of West Bengal and Odisha in meeting the impact of the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan. This meeting of leaders of opposition parties conveys its deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. We express our solidarity and sympathies with the pain of those who have suffered other losses.
The country and its people are already in the midst of a grim struggle for survival combatting the Covid 19 pandemic. A natural calamity like Cyclone Amphan has come as a double blow, breaking the spirits of the people. People in both these states urgently need support and solidarity of the governments and people of the country.
Opposition parties therefore urge the central government to immediately declare this as a national calamity and substantially help the states in facing the impact of this disaster. At this juncture, relief and rehabilitation should be the top most priority. But the possibility of an outbreak of other diseases as a result of such calamity must also not be ignored. We as a nation stand in a very precarious position right now. Hence, we the opposition parties call upon the central government to provide urgent help to our fellow citizens/countrymen.