Coronavirus | Congress decries ‘empty package, wrapped in speeches for over three days’

Economic stimulus package has turned out to be an empty promise’

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman displayed “arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity” while giving out details of the economic stimulus package that has turned out to be a jumla (empty promise), the Congress said on Thursday.

While the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called the stimulus package a jumla, senior leader Ahmed Patel said, “It is an empty package wrapped with speeches since the last three days.”

Addressing a joint online press conference, Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari and party spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the humanitarian crisis surrounding the migrant workers is a defining image of the coronavirus crisis in India, but the government had fallen woefully short in addressing it.

“The image of our migrant workers walking to reach the safety of their homes will haunt us for a long time. Was it not your responsibility to answer what are you doing about them?” Mr. Tewari asked the government.

‘Bamboozle people’

“You are trying to bamboozle people by throwing big numbers at people. We don’t have words to express our anguish and our heads hand in shame,” Mr. Tewari said, adding that the government had earmarked only ₹3,500 crore of the ₹20 lakh crore stimulus package.

Ms. Shrinate said that the government was trying to solve a demand side issue with supply side tools.

“All the government has done is announce loan melas (fairs) for different sets of people. Where is the assistance?” asked Ms. Shrinate.

She added that only direct cash transfers on the lines of Congress’ NYAY minimum guarantee scheme to the bottom 13 crore households would have helped the poor cope with the crisis.

“MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) wages have been revised annually for a decade now. Today’s FM (Finance Minister) announcement no big deal. Nothing on what’s urgently needed: 1. Provide wages for month of April. 2. Increase no. of MGNREGA days to 200. Ironic that those who ridiculed MGNREGA now rely on it,” tweeted former Union minister Jairam Ramesh.

Rahul tweets

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted they would make their voices reach the government.

“here is dense darkness and times are difficult. Have courage, all of us are standing for the safety of all of them. We will ensure that their screams reach the government and they get the help they deserve. They are not the ordinary public of the country, they are the flagbearers of the country’s self-respect. We will never let them bow down,” Mr. Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

With inputs from The Hindu