Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday urged the Central government to transfer cash and distribute free foodgrains to the poor during the lockdown and said that "only a heartless government" will not do anything. He added that there is "overwhelming evidence" that more and more people have run out of cash and are forced to stand in lines to collect free cooked food.
There is overwhelming evidence that more and more people have run out of cash and are forced to stand in lines to collect free cooked food. Only a heartless government will stand by and do nothing.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 19, 2020
Taking to Twitter, Chidambaram asked, "Why cannot government save them from hunger and protect their dignity by transferring cash to every poor family."
"Why can't government distribute, free of cost, a small part of the 77 million tonnes of grain with FCI to families who need the grain to feed themselves," he also asked. He termed both the questions he asked as "economic and moral questions" that both PM Modi and FM Nirmala Sitharaman have failed to answer as the nation watches "helplessly"
Chidambaram has been seeking transfer of cash to the poor who are finding it difficult to survive without employment amid the countrywide lockdown. Thousands of migrant workers have been stranded at various State borders in the country while seeking to reach their homes in villages, creating law and order situations at some places. Such a cash transfer is already ongoing via DBT, as part of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's first wave of financial relief measures, and so is the distribution of foodgrains, something Chidambaram appears to have not taken into account.
India's total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 15,712, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Sunday. Out of the total cases, 12,974 cases are active, while 2,231 people have been cured/discharged/migrated and 507 deaths have been reported, as per the ministry. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Maharashtra continues to be the worst-affected state with a total of 3,651 cases. While 365 patients have recovered, 211 deaths have been reported.
(With PTI inputs)