The Congress on Saturday accused the Central government of failing to protect the lives of the people amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also urged the Centre to follow the suggestions of the experts to declare a nationwide lockdown in the wake of the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country.

Earlier in the day, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘not utilising the vaccination budget’.

“Vaccine budget – underutilized. Human life – undervalued. Because Prime Minister’s ego – overinflated,” he tweeted, attaching a news report which claimed that only Rs 4,744 crore has been utilised from the vaccine budget of Rs 35,000 crore.

In another tweet, he tagged a small video titled “Modi hai to mumkin hai” which showed a rising graph of Covid-19 cases and a declining graph of vaccination.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Ajay Maken while addressing a virtual press conference quoted a report from The Lancet medical journal which claimed that India will see one million deaths from Covid-19 by August 1.

Maken said the report also said that if that outcome was to happen, the Narendra Modi government would be responsible for presiding over a self-inflicted national catastrophe .

He also said that the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and The Lancet have made several suggestions similar to those made by his party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi.

“The government should not shut its eyes on the suggestions given by the experts and the opposition. If the suggestions are coming from professionals and experts, the government must listen to them,” Maken said, adding that if the IMA and journals like The Lancet are suggesting the imposition of a national lockdown, the government should follow the same.

He also said that if the government plans to impose a nationwide lockdown, it should do that with a ‘Nyay’ like scheme providing Rs 6,000 per month to the poor to tide over the crisis.

Maken pointed out that it is the duty of the government to ensure that people don’t die due to the pandemic or because of hunger.

Maken also welcomed the setting up of a National Task Force by the Supreme Court to manage oxygen distribution, saying the top court had to intervene after the Central government “completely failed” in its duties.