Describing the call by PM Modi for nationwide lockdown as a ‘watershed moment’ in the country’s fight against coronavirus, the scam accused senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has urged people to be ‘foot soldiers’ of PM Modi, whom he described as the ‘commander’ of the fight.
“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 full support to the Prime Minister and the central and the state governments,” Chidambaram said in a two-page statement.
The former finance minister released his statement on his Twitter account along with providing a 10-point cash transfer plan for people to cope up with the economic crisis that has emerged because of the lockdown. Chidambaram also emphasised the imperative for the government to think and plan not just for 21 days but for some weeks beyond the lockdown period to provide people with money and items of daily needs.
My statement on the current lockdown and how the Government can help make it better. @PMOIndia @narendramodi @nsitharaman @nsitharamanoffc @FinMinIndia #STAYHOMEINDIA pic.twitter.com/0sQJwG0HAD— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) March 25, 2020
Chidambaram asked the government to double the amount payable/paid under PM-Kisan Yojna to Rs 12000 and transfer the amount in the bank accounts of the beneficiaries immediately to allay concerns of cashlessness among the farmers. He also exhorted the government to include the tenant farmers under the purview of PM-Kisan Yojana and transfer the Rs 12000 amount to them as well.
“Take the lists of registered MGNREGA workers and transfer a sum of Rs 3000 into the bank account of each beneficiary. There will be some duplication despite the de-duplication efforts made by seeding Aadhaar in these accounts. There will be cases where a beneficiary received double payment. There will be some mistakes. Doesn’t matter. Even for allowing 15 per cent of ‘wrong payments’, it is worth doing these cash transfers,” the UPA-era finance minister said.
Furthermore, for the urban poor, he proposed that the government transfer ₹6,000 to Jan Dhan accounts including the no-frills or zero balance accounts opened before Jan Dhan accounts and offer 10 kg of free rice or wheat through public distribution shops to every ration cardholder.
Chidamabaram also suggested the government to ask registered employers to maintain current levels of employment and wages while granting a guarantee to the employers that the government will reimburse the amount paid to the employers within 30 days.
“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 and destitute 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,” he said.
In addition to these suggestions, Chidambaram proposed asking banks to defer payment of EMIs until June 30, extend the deadline to pay taxes until June 30 and reduce goods and services tax (GST) on essential commodities.
“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,” he said.