Coronavirus | Third wave is going to be worse, says Rahul Gandhi as Cong releases White paper

Vaccination is the central pillar on which COVID-19 can be dealt with, Mr. Gandhi said.

The Congress released a report on COVID-19 mismanagement prepared by the Research Department of the party at a press conference.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, at the press conference said, the white paper was not to point fingers at anyone but “to correct the shortcomings in the future”. The report is based on discussion that took place within the Congress structure and experts, he said.

“Everyone had predicted a second wave but the government didn’t have the correct response.”

He said we were again at that stage where a third wave is likely to hit. “That’s why the government needs to be fully prepared. The propose of this white paper is not to point fingers at the government but to help the nation prepare for the third wave.”

Calling it a blue print to deal with the third wave, he said, “we are trying to give information to the government about where we went wrong.”

Vaccination is the central pillar on which COVID-19 can be dealt with, Mr. Gandhi said. “One pillar is what went wrong and our suggestion is to set up a commission to examine what went wrong.”

The second pillar on which COVID-19 management stands is infrastructure “that we didn’t have in the first and second wave”, he added.

He said the third pillar was economy. “COVID-19 isn’t just a biological disease but a social and economic ailment. We have been talking about giving assistance to the poor people.”

“Fourth pillar is the COVID-19 compensation fund to help families that have lost bread winners.”

Not the time and place for discussing Pawar’s meeting

Asked about NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s scheduled meeting with Opposition leaders at his Delhi residence, Mr. Gandhi said his intention for the press conference was to bring focus on COVID-19. “There is a time and place for discussion (on the Opposition conclave) and I am happy to discuss it then.”

Calling Monday’s record number of vaccinations in the country “a good job done”, Mr. Gandhi said, “We must make this a mission. This is a matter of life and death and the government must not view Indian States as BJP and Congress States. We have to fight corona in a decentralised manner. Everyone has a place (in the fight) — the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, District Magistrate and the citizens.”

“Dr. Manmohan Singh has given suggestions but you ridiculed him. Later, you had to accept the suggestions. You have to accept you’ve made mistakes; only then you can correct it,” Mr. Gandhi said, addressing the Centre.

‘Centre hiding number of deaths’

The Centre was hiding the truth on the number of deaths, he alleged. “The number is five to six times that provided by the government.”

“We can attack the government later,” he said, stressing the need to address the looming threat of the third wave. “If you thought the second wave was bad, the third wave is going to be worse!”

During the second wave, 90% of the COVID-19 deaths in India were needless deaths mainly due to shortage of oxygen and not those owing to serious co-morbidities, he said.

“PM’s tears can’t wipe off the tears of the families who lost their loved ones, of those who died needlessly. PM Modi was not taking things seriously. His focus was on different things and fighting elections in Bengal. The PM was also engaged in marketing events like taali bajao, thaali bajaao.”

‘Vaccination only solution’

“Vaccination is the only solution. Deploy as many vaccines as possible on a war footing and in mission mode. India is the only country where people are paying for vaccines in private hospitals,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi alleged the gap fixed by the government between two doses was a political decision, that taken due to shortage of vaccines.

“The Centre is making ₹4 lakh crore from taxes on petrol and diesel. Why can’t they give some of this back to the people? Families need the money to be productive.”

Asked about vaccine hesitancy, particularly among women and Muslims, he said vaccination was a must and that awareness campaigns must be conducted.

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