Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 25
Former Home Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram today urged everyone to back Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “stay at home” call saying the PM is the commander and people are the foot soldiers in the fight against the disease.
“The PM’s announcement yesterday of a nationwide 21-day lockdown is a watershed moment in the battle against COVID 19. We should put behind us the debates that took place before March 24 and look upon the nationwide lockdown as the beginning of a new battle in which the people are the foot soldiers and the PM is the Commander. We owe a duty to extend our total support to the Prime Minister and the central and state governments,” Chidambaram said.
The former minister also laid down a 10 point plan to ease the stress of the marginalized who would be the worst hit in the lockdown period.
Appealing to all to stay at home, Chidambaram said “#STAYHOMEINDIA is a great rally cry. But to #STAY HOME, people will need money and food. We must think and plan not only for the next 21 days but for some weeks beyond the lockdown period. Besides, current employment and wages must be protected.”
The plan, he said, is intended to put cash and food immediately in the hands of the poor and the vulnerable.
The ex minister suggested that farmers’ incomes be doubled under PM-KISAN to Rs 12,000 and transferred immediately to the bank account of each beneficiary.
“Bring tenant farmers under PM-KISAN. Take the lists from the state governments and transfer Rs 6000 + Rs 6000 (in two instalments) to the bank account of each tenant farmer. Take the lists of registered MGNREGA workers and transfer a sum of Rs 3000 into the bank account of each beneficiary,” he said.
Chidambaram said there will be some duplication but that does not matter at this time.
“For the urban poor, Chidambaram said, use Jan Dhan accounts with urban branches of the banks and transfer a sum of Rs 6000 into the bank account of each beneficiary. Offer to every ration card holder, through the ration shops, 10 kg of rice or wheat absolutely free, as a one-time measure in the next 21 days. Arrange for home delivery,” he said.
The Congress leader asked all registered employers (registered under any law) to maintain current levels of employment and wages.
“Guarantee to such employers who do so that the wages of the employees will be reimbursed by the government within 30 days of payment,” he suggested.
Chidambaram also asked the government to open a register in every ward or block and invite persons who have not received payment under any of the categories listed above to register their name, address and Aadhaar.
“Street people will fall under this category. After minimal verification, open a bank account in each name (if there is not already one), seed it with Aadhaar and transfer Rs 3000 into each bank account and extend the deadlines for payment of any kind of tax until 30 June 2020. In the interim, banks can be instructed to lend to panchayats, municipalities and corporations against the security of the tax receivables,” he said asking the government to instruct banks to extend the date for any kind of EMI payment until 30 June 2020 and cut GST rates by 5 per cent on all wage goods, essential goods and services, and all goods of mass consumption for the period 1 April to 30 June 2020.
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