NEW DELHI, MAY 5: When the “Sultan” should have built hospitals and ensured oxygen supply for COVID patients, he is building a palace for himself, the Congress said on Tuesday as it questioned once again the thousands of crores of rupees being spent on Narendra Modi’s Central Vista project at a time Indians are dying for lack of treatment.
“Rs 13,450 crore for Central Vista. Or, for fully vaccinating 45 crore Indians. Or, for 1 crore oxygen cylinders. Or, to give 2 crore families NYAY of Rs 6,000. But, Prime Minister’s ego is bigger than people’s lives,” Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter, pointing out how the money being spent on the project, which includes a new house for the Prime Minister and a new Parliament building, could have been used.
The project, for which Modi did a bhoomi pujan in December, has been categorised as an “essential service” and work on it continues even though Delhi is in lockdown. The Central Public Works Department has said the Parliament building will be complete by November 2022 and the Prime Minister’s new residence will be ready by December 2022, according to PTI.
“Awaam ke paise se mauz karo (Enjoy yourself using public money). That’s Modi’s mindset,” Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said at a news conference.
“We know him from Gujarat. When he became Chief Minister there, 8 bungalows in the vicinity of the Chief Minister’s official residence were acquired. Crores of rupees were spent on renovation of the Chief Minister’s residence and one ‘sheesh mahal’ was also built for Modi’s personal use. A luxurious room with glass fittings; we don’t know what he used to do there. But he has the habit of living like Sultans,” Gohil, who is from Gujarat, added.
Modi used to describe the UPA Government as the “Delhi sultanate” before becoming the Prime Minister in what appeared to be an insinuation that the Congress was pro-Muslim. The Hindutva ecosystem relishes unflattering tales about Sultans ~ Muslim emperors ~ building castles while ignoring mass suffering.
Gohil said: “Even in the Secretariat, a new block was built for a posh office of the Chief Minister…The Sultan’s priorities haven’t changed. When he should have built hospitals and arranged oxygen for dying patients on a war footing, he is focused on building a palace for himself.”
The Congress leader continued: “When they should have been planning for the second wave and oxygen crisis as forewarned by experts, the Government’s own empowered group and Parliament’s Standing Committee, the Sultan and Wazir (a reference to Home Minister Amit Shah) ventured out to grab power in Bengal. Now they are obsessed with the new palace. They are a blot on democracy.”
Rahul Gandhi, who since February 2020 has been repeatedly warning of the threat from COVID and the need to prepare both the healthcare system and the economy to handle the pandemic, said the only way to stop the virus now was a lockdown.
“I just want to make it clear that a lockdown is now the only option because of a complete lack of strategy by Government of India. They allowed, rather, they actively helped the virus reach this stage where there’s no other way to stop it. A crime has been committed against India,” the former Congress president said.
A lockdown is what many health experts, including Dr Anthony Fauci of the US, are advising to stem the devastating second surge that has left crematoriums overflowing across Indian cities.
Modi, who had clamped down a countrywide lockdown on a 4-hour notice in March last year when cases were far fewer and extended it repeatedly for months, has now told the States to avoid a lockdown and use it only as the last resort.
“The Government of India doesn’t get it. The only way to stop the spread of Corona now is a full lockdown ~ with the protection of NYAY for the vulnerable sections. The Government’s inaction is killing many innocent people,” Rahul said. NYAY refers to a scheme to transfer Rs 6,000 a month into the bank accounts of the poor who are thrown out of work in a lockdown.