New Delhi: Trinamool Congress, NCP, TRS, Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal, Shiv Sena, RSP, and DMK leaders attended the meeting held by Prime Minister on Covid management, while Congress, Akali Dal, AAP and the two Left parties – the CPI (M) and CPI sent no representatives.
They do come out of slumber from time to time giving clarion calls for 'unity of purpose' against Narendra Modi. But the Prime Minister's 'reach out' political card on the pandemic management showed utter confusion in the opposition camp.
Thus the Prime Minister's meeting with floor leaders on Covid management on Tuesday (July 20) evening went on 'successfully' as some key opposition faces, including the likes of Sudip Bandyopadhyay of Trinamool Congress and Sharad Pawar of NCP attended.
There was no representation from parties such as Congress, Akali Dal, AAP and the two Left parties – the CPI (M) and CPI.
But a key Left constituent from Kerala, its vocal M.P. N.K. Premachandran represented RSP.
Worse and rather a more interesting tale lies in the 'different excuses' given by those parties which stayed away from the three-hour-long marathon meeting in which, Prime Minister Modi counselled that: "The pandemic should not be a matter of politics and is a matter of concern for the entire humanity."
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said the Congress feels the government should brief all M. Ps in the Central Hall of Parliament and not just the floor leaders.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said the meeting should not have been convened on the eve of Eid.
"An all party meeting has been called by the Govt to brief floor leaders on Govt’s COVID-19 (miss) Asaduddin Owaisi. @PMOIndia will also attend. It’s insulting that it’s been scheduled on the evening before Eid. It could have easily been scheduled on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning," he tweeted.
Another Opposition leader quipped: "It would have not looked nice if everyone stayed away. The BJP would have used it to criticize us, saying that we are playing politics over the pandemic."
Some parties shared their grievances as the principal opposition party, Congress, did not take any initiative to decide something specific. Thus, there was 'no clear decision' either to attend or otherwise.
Thus, Trinamool Congress, NCP, TRS, Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal, Shiv Sena, RSP, and DMK leaders attended the meeting.
TRS leader Nama Nageswara Rao urged the government to boost the vaccination drive and noted that the second wave had affected the rural population.
The Shiv Sena and the Trinamool Congress demanded more vaccines for Maharashtra and West Bengal.
BJD leader Pinaki Mishra demanded that the government should expedite getting international recognition for the indigenous vaccine Covaxin.
Modi's trusted lieutenants, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were present from the ruling side.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan made a detailed presentation showing how many vaccinations have been done and how things were still better than in other countries.
The Prime Minister, in his address, told the floor leaders that efforts were being made to ensure that every district across the country has at least one oxygen plant.
He also briefed about the increasing pace of India's Covid-19 vaccination program.
"The first 10 crore doses took around 85 days, while the next 10 crore doses took only 24 days," the Prime Minister said.
But he expressed concern that a "significant" number of healthcare and frontline workers have not been vaccinated, even after over six months of the commencement of the vaccination drive.