In the wake of nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “watershed moment” in the battle against coronavirus, Former Union Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the PM was the commander and the people “foot soldiers”.
Suggesting a 10-point response plan to help people deal with the lockdown, Mr Chidambaram called for transferring money in the bank accounts of the poor and the marginalised and a three-month cut in taxes on all essential goods and services from April 1.
“The prime minister’s announcement yesterday of a nationwide 21-day lockdown is a watershed moment in the battle against COVID-19. We should put behind us the debates that took place before March 24 and look upon the nationwide lockdown as the beginning of a new battle in which the people are the foot soldiers and the PM is the Commander,” he said.
“We owe a duty to extend our total support to the prime minister and the central and state governments,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown of the entire country for 21 days to try and stop the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic that has affected over 500 people and killed at least nine across the country.
Mr Chidambaram called for doubling the payout to farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme to Rs 12,000 and including tenant farmers under it as well.
He also suggested transferring Rs 3,000 into bank accounts of registered workers under the rural employment programme MGNREGA.
For the urban poor, the former Finance Minister demanded transfer of Rs 6,000 into their Jan Dhan accounts, besides offering 10 kg of rice or wheat absolutely free, as a one-time measure in the next 21 days to every ration card holder.
The former union minister called for asking all registered employers to maintain current levels of employment and wages.
Mr Chidambaram also called for opening a register in every ward or block and invite persons who have not received payment under any of the categories.
After minimal verification, open a bank account in each name (if there is not already one), seed it with Aadhaar and transfer Rs 3,000 into each bank account, he said.