In a four-page letter written by former Chief Minister of Gujarat Shankersinh Vaghela, the former ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has questioned the latter on the preparedness for an economic crisis post-COVID-19.
In this strongly-worded letter, Vaghela has claimed that it is a need of the hour to focus on the economy or else India will witness "worse situation than what the Americans had faced in the severe economic crisis of 1929-30" - the crisis which is also referred to as 'The Great Depression' where the global unemployment rate had shot up to 24.9% and global GDP decline stood at 26.7%.
Pointing out to the Prime Minister that May 1 is celebrated as both Gujarat and Maharashtra foundation day and 'Labour Day', he claimed that the highest contribution is of the labourers and that they should be kept in mind for any decision making in this lockdown. A seven-point agenda listed by the NCP leader includes water and electricity bill exemption, MGNREGA to be implemented across districts for creating jobs, assistance to farmers for fair market price. He also stated that farmers' loans can be waived off if several wilful defaulters like Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi were given such a huge leeway - an line of attack that has been rebutted by the government.
Throughout the letter, Vaghela is seen taking jibes at Narendra Modi alleging delayed government reaction to COVID-19 pandemic. He claimed that "China informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) about the first case of Coronavirus on December 31 2019, and several countries which are doing well now like Taiwan, Sweden, Germany, South Korea, etc had immediately started testing and checking people who were returning from abroad." This doesn't account for India faring well in terms of keeping the Covid curve under control at this point.
Vaghela also lashed out at the Centre stating that the model of Kerala could also have been adopted across the country which would have lessened the loss of life and perils faced by Indians. "But the Government of India is silent and attaches more political importance to President of the United States than to its own citizens," the letter stated.
Citing this, he also said that 'Namaste Trump' event was an irresponsible move by the current dispensation and claimed that majority of the people believe it could have been avoided altogether since it has yielded no diplomatic victories. He also criticised the government alleging that the government played politics and delayed the lockdown because they wanted to overthrow the Congress Government for the formation of BJP's in Madhya Pradesh.
He claimed that the MSMEs form 75% of the population and they need to be brought out of this crisis at the earliest. That, 'government of India created a bountiful example of political-economic benefits such as the PM CARES fund which is a fund for the care of BJP only'. And that if the government refuses to show transparency even now, it is making fun of the emotions with which millionaires and common people contributed to it. In the seven-point agenda, the first 'advice' given by Vaghela is to shut off collections for PM-CARES funds and all the funds collected till now should be transferred to official funds under Disaster Management Act and it should also be audited by CAG.
He has, however, also belatedly given the government a benefit of doubt and stated that such a huge crisis in such a short notice is a big challenge and now the government must think about the future ahead and make sure that situation remains stable.