Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday lashed out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for casting doubts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s capability to handle the Coronavirus crisis.
He said PM Modi “always plays on the front foot in the interest of the country”.
Prasad was reacting to Rahul Gandhi’s Tuesday statement wherein the latter accused Modi of playing on the back foot amid the ongoing war against coronavirus in the country.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the four phases of the nationwide lockdown have “failed” and not given the results that Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected as he urged the Centre to spell out its strategy for “opening up” the country.
Addressing an online press conference, he expressed concern that India is the only country which is relaxing the lockdown when the virus is “exponentially rising”.
He said that if the government functions haphazardly and takes ad-hoc measures during the non-lockdown period, the country will face a second wave of coronavirus which will be “extremely devastating”.
The Congress leader asked the prime minister to play aggressively on the front foot and tell the country on what he intends to do moving forward. He said the prime minister who initially played on the front foot has now gone on the back foot as he is not seen.
He, however, said he did not rate Modi’s performance saying he is not a professor and “that would be inappropriate for me to do”.
Rahul Gandhi further said the prime minister had said the war against Coronavirus would be won in 21 days, but 60 days later, it is now clear whether the lockdown has not been able to defeat the virus.
With the number of new cases increasing exponentially, he said, it is clear that the prime minister and his advisors had underestimated the scale of the battle India had to launch to defeat coronavirus.
The prime minister was quick to take centrestage in the early stages of this battle, Rahul Gandhi said, adding, now he has stepped back when his leadership is needed the most.
He also said that the Congress party is running some states and the party is giving cash to people, including labourers. However, he alleged that the party was not getting any support from the Centre.
Reacting on the Congress leader’s remarks, Ravi Shankar Prasad said the first state to announce a lockdown was Punjab followed by Rajasthan. And now, Maharashtra and Punjab are the first ones to extend the lockdown till May 31, even before the meeting of chief ministers with the Prime Minister.
“Rahul Gandhi ji, you say lockdown is not the solution, then don’t you explain this to your chief ministers? Or don’t they listen to you, or they don’t give your opinions any weightage?” the law minister quipped.