NEW DELHI: CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Sunday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his government's handling of the coronavirus situation in the country and charged that democratic accountability is grossly missing in his style of governance.
In a letter to the prime minister, Yechury said the political executive in the country is proving its "incompetence by knee-jerk reactions "and suggested measures that need to be put in place to fight coronavirus.
We are now entering the last week of the forty-day nation-wide lockdown that you had announced suddenly and abruptly with a mere four-hour notice.
"This left both the people and the state governments completely unprepared to meet the grave consequences of the sudden lockdown.
Since the lockdown, the urge among the migrant workers to return to their homes has seen surging crowds in huge numbers seeking to leave for their homes as they have lost all means of livelihood and shelter.
"This in itself negated one of the objectives of the lockdown, of maintaining physical distancing in order to contain community transmission, he said.
Hitting out at the prime minister, Yechury charged that he has shown a singular disdain to face the media and reply to the concerns of the Indian people, unlike many of your counterparts in the world".
Leaders of the government in most countries address regular press conferences and answer questions. This is the only way to remain accountable and to give confidence to the people that the government is both competent and in command of the situation," he said.
Pointing out that chief minister of the LDF government in Kerala holds a daily press briefing and outlines measures that the government has taken to generate the confidence required for the people to face this challenge, Yechury alleged, "Democratic accountability is grossly missing in your (PM's) style of governance" Raising the issue of employment, Yechury said that if Rs. 7.76 lakhs crore of loans taken by the super rich and corporates can be waived off by the government during the last five years, there should be no shortage of funds to feed and support the majority of people.
Accusing the government of being unfair to the states, Yechury said that no support has been forthcoming from the central government so far in any meaningful manner.
A crisis has been created by the rapid announcement of a nationwide lockdown for migrant workers. You are now asking state governments to provide shelter, food and maintain physical distancing and other restrictions of the lockdown.
"This is patently unfair. Even outstanding dues of state governments over GST collections have not been paid to them yet. Indeed, funds must be liberally transferred to the states forthwith, he said.
He also said that while money is being collected in a fund by a private trust that bears the PM's name, it has been officially stated that this fund shall not be audited either by the CAG or any other government-appointed auditor.
Deductions from salaries of government employees and others are being forcibly transferred to this fund even if they are formally donated to the official Prime Minister's Disaster Relief Fund," he alleged.
These funds must be immediately deployed to meet the requirements to strengthen the fight against the pandemic, he said adding government should also stop wasteful expenditure.
Highlighting the issue of shortage of PPEs in the country, Yechury said that unfortunately, despite a long lead time that India had compared to many other countries, necessary preparations were not undertaken.
The CPI-M leader also pointed to the situation in Madhya Pradesh.
The grave situation of accelerating of positive cases in states like Madhya Pradesh with huge fatalities are directly connected with the naked lust for political power by the BJP violating all norms at a critical time of a public health emergency," he charged.
"The toppling of an elected government and the swearing-in of a BJP government had left the state without any political leadership and the ordinary people are paying the price for this alarming spread of the pandemic, he said.
He also alleged that it has become the habit of the central government to issue orders that cannot be understood followed by multiple clarifications and even rescinding those orders.
We saw the track record of such a dismal governance model when demonetisation was undertaken. Clearly, the political executive in the country is proving its incompetence by knee-jerk reactions, he said.
Yechury said the coronavirus crisis should not give rise to communal polarisation and stressed that the battle against the pandemic can only succeed when the country and all Indians are united.
The irresponsibility of Tablighi Jamaat organisers cannot be the excuse for targeting the entire Muslim minority community and deepening social divisions and communal polarization. This only undermines India's strength while spreading communal hatred," he said.
"The impact of such a communal campaign is now being felt in many countries of the world where a large number of people of Indian origin work and reside. It is up to the political leadership i.e the central government to put a stop to this forthwith.
"Otherwise, it would be the greatest disservice both to the fight against the pandemic and the people of our country, he said.