PM's address: BJP urges people to heed appeal, Oppn says country needs solutions not 'speeches'
New Delhi, Oct 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation in which he appealed to people to follow COVID-19 guidelines evoked contrasting reactions with the ruling BJP urging everyone to support his appeal and the Opposition criticising it, saying the country does not need "plain speeches" but concrete solutions.
With the onset of the festival season, Modi made an impassioned appeal to people to follow COVID-19 guidelines, saying this is not the time to be careless as the virus is still around and even small negligence can dampen the festive spirit. Reacting to the prime minister's address, the Congress demanded that he come out with concrete solutions to control the COVID-19 pandemic and revive the economy instead of giving "plain speeches".
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed that the Modi government has "failed" on both the fronts and India has become the "Corona capital" of the world with the "highest" number of daily cases and deaths. "It is easy to give sermons. The country does not need plain speeches but concrete solutions," he said in a tweet, quoting a phrase from saint Tulsidas.
In a series of tweets, BJP president JP Nadda said people of the country should heed the PM's appeal and follow it in letter and spirit as it is for the welfare of all. Soon after the PM's address, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked everyone to support Modi's appeal on COVID-19, saying only a united and determined India can overcome the pandemic crisis. He said the safety and health of Indians have been the top priority of the Modi government.
The home minister requested everyone to follow the prime minister's appeal to not let their guard down till a vaccine is developed and make it as a guiding motto to keep their families safe. Several BJP leaders said the prime minister's advice should be diligently followed as it is for the welfare of people of the country. Union minister Rajnath Singh said it would be inappropriate to assume that the risk of coronavirus is over. "For our own safety, we should follow prime minister Modi's message," he said.
However, the Opposition was scathing in its criticism of the government with CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury alleging that while addressing the nation for the seventh time since the imposition of the lockdown, PM Modi brushed aside all shortcomings in tackling the pandemic.
"The truth is, India next to USA registers the highest number of infections and deaths in the world. Worse, we register the fastest growth rate of infections in the world," Yechury said. "Crores of people have lost their jobs, more are suffering from hunger, India's standing in global hunger index is worse than all our neighbours. Despite massive stock of foodgrains, PM refuses to distribute free food to the hungry or cash transfers to the unemployed," he said in a series of tweets attacking Modi.
Surjewala and Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera, in a joint statement, said, "The prime minister must answer for the failure of the leadership". "Kindly tell the country on how to control the volatile situation of the pandemic... . How will he revive the falling economy? Does he have a solution or will he blame it on God," the two leaders asked in their statement.
"While the battle against Corona is on, the leader has turned invisible and is only seen giving sermons on TV," they said.
In his seventh address to the nation following the COVID-19 outbreak, Modi cited examples of the US and several European countries to note that the coronavirus cases there have seen a sudden and worrisome rise after witnessing a fall, as he cautioned citizens against any laxity until an effective cure is found. He said pictures and videos have of late emerged showing that many people have either stopped following precautions like wearing masks or have become negligent.
"This is absolutely not right. Those who have become negligent and are moving around without masks are putting themselves and their families, including children and elderly, at risk," Modi said in his televised speech.
At one point during his speech, Modi folded his hands to impress upon people to take precautions like wearing masks, sanitising their hands and maintaining social distance and said he wants to see them safe and their families happy.