The government’s bailout package to soften the impact of coronavirus on Thursday got a rare thumbs-up from Rahul Gandhi, who called it the “first step in the right direction”. This is hours after his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledging full support to the government in the fight against the deadly virus.
“The government announcement today of a financial assistance package is the first step in the right direction. India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women and the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown,” the Congress MP tweeted, in a marked change from his previous posts targeting the government.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore scheme, dubbed the Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan scheme. It will address the concerns of poor, migrant workers and those who need help, she said, adding that the government would ensure that “no one will go hungry”.
Those at the frontline of the coronavirus battle—including doctors, nurses and support staff—will be given Rs50 lakh medical insurance cover.
The government also announced a scheme for 5 kg extra wheat and rice free of cost for the next three months for the poor over and above what they are entitled to under the National Food Security Act. They will also get 1 kg pulses free for the next three months and free cooking gas.
Earlier, Sonia Gandhi had written to the PM: “As president of the Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taking by the union government to ensure the containment of the pandemic”.