Senior Congress leader and former Union law minister Ashwani Kumar has appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to open dialogue with opposition parties and seek their support in mobilising people during testing times of coronavirus.
In a letter to Singh, Kumar said his resolve to bring succour to the people will be best served by continuing an ongoing dialogue with the opposition parties, whose support will be necessary for mobilizing the people in this do-or-die battle for the survival of humanity.
"We need to embrace an elevating politics that is anchored in compassion and idealism. It is in moments such as these that leadership is tested. We all stand by you in the line of duty," Kumar said in the letter.
The former Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab also asked the chief minister to set up a committee of prominent citizens of the state and seek their response primarily on the possible humanitarian measures required to bring succour to the poorest of the poor, particularly those in the most backward rural areas who have absolutely no means of subsistence.
He said inputs of active NGOs working or willing to work in these areas would vastly help the government.
Kumar sought larger resources for discretionary financial aid for the victims should be placed at the disposal of District Collectors so that immediate assistance to the destitutes can be given.
"The DC's should be instructed to place highest priority on relieving acute distress of those facing destitution. This is a matter of the citizens' rights in a welfare state," he said.
"While the lockdown is in place and has to be effectively enforced, the administration must act with compassion and consideration, given that in extraordinary circumstances such as these, the state assumes the role of a guardian of the people," the former union minister said.
He also sought immediate initiatives for an extensive health care infrastructure is an obvious need which will require a review of financial allocations by the state.
"The Centre and the state are together in this fight. It is therefore imperative that the Centre be persuaded to allocate to the border State the necessary funds considering the nature of the agriculture driven State economy, its inadequate revenue base and its special responsibilities as a border State," he told the chief minister.
The senior Congress leader said the fight against COVID-19 is clearly a long battle in which the full resources of the Indian State and collective wisdom of our people is required to be marshalled.