Observe March 22 as People's Solidarity Day: CPI(M)

Coronavirus: CPI(M) asks people to observe March 22 as People's Solidarity Day

The CPI(M) said people should observe the day by demanding scaling of the testing for the virus to cover the widest sections of people

 Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not proposing any steps to fight COVID-19 in his address to the nation, the CPI(M) has asked people to observe March 22, the day of 'Janta Curfew', as a day of people's solidarity in the fight against the pandemic demanding scaling up of testing, free ration and financial packages for sectors hit by the spread of the disease.

In a statement, the CPI(M) politburo said the Prime Minister had "not proposed any concrete steps to deal with the health and economic aspects" of the fight against Covid-19. Modi had in his address to the nation on Thursday appealed to people to observe 'Janta Curfew' (People's Curfew) on Sunday by staying back at home and not venturing outside.

The CPI(M) said people should observe the day by demanding scaling of the testing for the virus to cover the widest sections of people, especially those with  symptoms like cold, fever and cough among other things.

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It also wanted an announcement on increased expenditure to strengthen public health system with adequate free testing, hospital facilities, isolation wards and ventilators. Private hospitals should be roped in to provide "free treatment" for Covid-19 patients, it said.
People should also demand that the Centre provide adequate funds to states to enable them give a cash transfer of Rs 5,000 to Jan Dhan accounts and all beneficiaries who are Below Poverty Line (BPL), the statement said.

"Workers and employees who have to stay away from work due to coronavirus should be given paid sick leave while financial packages should be announced for sectors hit by the pandemic. "This financial support must be conditional to the companies and enterprises not resorting to lay-offs and termination of jobs for the next three months," it said.

With lakhs of people in the unorganised sector staring at loss of livelihood, the party also wanted the government to increase the working days under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MNREGA) from the existing 100 days to 150 days and ensure all who want to avail it is given work.

The CPI(M) also wanted a fund to extend financial assistance to all workers in the informal and unorganised sectors whose livelihood is affected besides a moratorium on bank loans for a year for small and medium enterprises and retail traders.

The PDS should be expanded to cover all essential commodities while ration kits should be provided to children's houses in place of mid-day meal scheme in schools.

Another demand raised by the CPI(M) is to provide free ration through Public Distribution System (PDS), to people, including migrant labourers, by utilising the huge existing stock of 7.5 crore tonne in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India.