Coronavirus: Maharashtra Congress Chief Slams PM; State Minister Refuses to Light Lamp

Prime Minister Narendra Modi must get "serious" about the magnitude of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country, Maharashtra Congress chief and state revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat said on Friday.

He said it was time for the PM to take some firm policy decisions to fight the outbreak and give relief to people rather than "create an event" out of the issue.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, earlier in the day, urged people to switch off lights of their homes at 9 pm for nine minutes on April 5 and light up lamps, candles, mobile flashlights to display the nation's collective spirit to defeat coronavirus.

"Is it the PM's job to ask people to clap, light lamps? The BJP just wants to create an event out of any issue. During such times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take some firm policy decisions. It is about time the PM gets serious on these issues," Thorat said.

He said the need of the hour was to firmly be behind the people who are in the frontline fighting to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and to increase infrastructure like ventilators, testing kits and labs, personal protection equipment, he said.

The general public needs to be given hope during these distressing times and relief packages must be provided to those affected by the lockdown.

"After hearing the address, the question being raised is whether Narendra Modi will behave like a PM or not. When a country is going through a crisis, a responsible leadership is required. The BJP is taking away the seriousness of the issue at hand by announcing such PR stunts," Thorat said.

Meanwhile, state housing minister Jitendra Awhad also slammed Modi's address saying in a video that it was expected that Modi will talk about issues such as the plight of the poor because of lockdown to contain coronavirus pandemic, but he disappointed.

"I don't understand why they want to make an event of everything. This is nothing but foolishness, childishness," said Awhad.

"I want to announce, I am working, I meet the poor, I take care of them, give them food. I will give the money to the poor instead of spending it on oil and candles. I will keep all the lights in my house on and not light even a single candle," the minister said.

It was expected that Modi will assure people that there was enough stock of essential commodities, masks, sanitizers, medicines and testing kits but he did not do that, Awhad said.

Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut also mocked appeal and in a tweet, said, "When people were asked to clap, they crowded the roads and beat drums. I just hope now they don't burn down their own houses."

"Sir 'diyato jalayenge' but please tell us what the government is doing to improve the condition," Raut further asked.