Centre Did Nothing But Issue Instructions On Covid-19
THE WEEK|November 29, 2020
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is extremely critical of the Narendra Modi government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, from the “aimless lockdown” to providing little assistance to states.
Soni Mishra

Bhupesh Baghel, chief minister, Chhattisgarh

In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, Baghel accuses the Centre of “siphoning away” money from public sector undertakings in the state as donations to the PM CARES fund. He also wonders if the free Covid-19 vaccine announcement in Bihar was a signal that states that do not have an upcoming election would have to pay for it. Excerpts:

Q/ Amid Covid-19 and the economic downturn, how effective has the Congress been as the main opposition party?

A/ The Congress did a commendable job. Our leader Rahul Gandhi had warned the Modi government about Covid-19 in February. Unfortunately, they ignored the warning because of political reasons. When the disease started spreading, the prime minister went in for an aimless lockdown without any notice to citizens. Then too, the Congress leadership had warned that this kind of lockdown would be disastrous. Congress workers helped migrant labourers in all possible manner. In large states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the Congress was not in power, our workers did exemplary work to help the people. When the Centre asked migrants to buy train tickets, our leader Sonia Gandhi asked the state units to pay for the tickets.

Q/ It was a time for Congress governments to lead by example. How successful were you in this?

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