Rahul Gandhi today gave an F for effort to the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the centre for refusing to pay Rs 4 lakh compensation to families of Covid victims.
The centre has told the Supreme Court that if they pay compensation for Covid, then denying it for other diseases would be “unfair”.
Arguing that the Disaster Management Law states that compensation applies only to natural disasters like earthquake or floods, the government said that due to the pandemic’s massive scale it would not be appropriate to apply it to Covid.
“It’s impossible to put a price to a life – government compensation is only a small help but the Modi government is not ready to do that either,” the Congress leader, who has been firing a tweet-a-day keeping up the attack on the centre, tweeted in Hindi this morning.
In its defence, the centre also said due to increased health expenses and low tax revenue, states cannot afford to pay compensation for lakhs of Covid victims.
“Utilisation of scarce resources for giving ex-gratia, may have unfortunate consequences of affecting the pandemic response and health expenditure in other aspects and hence cause more damage than good,” the centre added in its affidavit.
The Congress leader also alleged that the government has been incompetent in providing treatment during the pandemic, fudging Covid death numbers and of being insensitive.
“First the lack of treatment during the Covid pandemic, then the false data and on top of that a cruel government,” Mr Gandhi, 51, said.
At the peak of the second wave of Covid, the patients gasped for breath as hospitals had run out of oxygen supplies amid overwhelming demand and rising caseload. Pictures emerged showing people line up outside hospitals waiting to get in. Amid this, bodies of suspected Covid patients were also found floating in the river Ganga, raising suspicions of considerable under-reporting of deaths.
The situation has improved a lot since then with the country reporting 53,256 new COVID-19 cases today, its fewest in 88 days as the second wave of infections appear to be ebbing.
Last week, the Patna High Court pulled up the Bihar government — ruled by the BJP and ally Nitish Kumar — and said for whatever reason, the state’s reluctance to publish the actual number of fatalities during the Covid pandemic is uncalled for and not protected by law.
“To cover with a veil of secrecy, the common routine business, is not in the interest of the public. Such secrecy can seldom be legitimately desired,” the court, quoting a 1975 Supreme Court order, said.
In May, Congress leaders, P Chidambaram and Shaktisinh Gohil citing a news report, claimed that Gujarat issued about 1,23,000 death certificates between March 1 and May 10, as against about 58,000 certificates issued during the same period last year and said they got these verified after collecting data from 33 districts of the state.
However, during the period March 1 to May 10, the government of Gujarat has officially admitted to only 4,218 Covid-related deaths.
The government earlier said the country had witnessed one of the lowest mortality rates from the disease.