Opposition parties corner BJP over handling of covid, lockdown

NEW DELHI: On the third day of the Parliament’s monsoon session, opposition parties sought to corner the Centre over health minister Harsh Vardhan’s claims that the lockdown prevented 14-29 lakh covid-19 cases and 37,000-78,000 deaths in the country.

“The house must be informed what is the scientific basis on which we’ve reached this conclusion,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said in the Rajya Sabha. “Covid-19 is an unprecedented event, an event that no one could have predicted… but the question is how prepared were we (for the lockdown)?”

Responding to Sharma, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said that the chief ministers were consulted several times and states did not oppose the lockdown.

An unprecedented and harsh lockdown notwithstanding, there has been a relentless rise in infections in the country. India on Wednesday reported 90,123 new cases of covid-19, bringing the country’s case load to 50,20,360. Of the total, 9,95,933 are active cases while 39,42,361 patients have been cured/discharged/migrated, the government has said.

Derek O’ Brien, from the Trinamool Congress, said a 21-day lockdown was announced with a notice of four hours. “My question to the government is this, was at least one video conference held before March 26 for coronavirus?”

He added that of every 100 spent on public health, states have contributed 63 but the Centre wants to take all the credit. “This government needs the humility to work with states.”

Members have also objected to Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s decision to club clarifications on health minister’s statement on the pandemic with a debate on Covid-19.

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