01:20 GMT21 September 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): As India grapples with stalled economic activities due to the lockdown, India's main opposition party Congress has been highlighting the distress faced by marginalised sections of society.

    India's Congress party has launched a countrywide campaign called "speak up India" to garner public support for the poor and marginalised sections of society who have suffered massively amid the lockdown. 

    Top Congress leaders including working President Sonia Gandhi have urged the Narendra Modi government to provide cash relief and to increase the job guarantee scheme to help the poor fight the pandemic.

    In a video address on Thursday, Gandhi said that many jobs have been lost as workplaces have been shut down. She also asked the Modi government to pay INR 7,500 ($100) a month to every marginalised family for the next six months and an additional INR 10,000 ($133) for their safe return home. 

    On 25 March millions of migrant labourers set out on foot to their homes in the countryside as they had no jobs and shelter. This mass migration led to a human crisis, with many dying on roads due to exhaustion. 

    The Congress Party's former president Rahul Gandhi demanded that the Modi government should increase the number of days of employment in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to 200 days in a year from 180 at present. 

    Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet, "It's time for every Indian to stand together & speak up in one voice....for our brothers & sisters struggling for survival; for those whose voice has been silenced; for those in despair & are fearful. We are India. Together we can make a difference."

    The Congress party has been raising the issue of poor and marginalised sections of the society over the past few months. The party also criticized the $266 billion economic stimulus package announced by PM Modi on May 12. 

    Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court of India ordered the Modi government to provide free travel to migrants seeking to return to their home states. The government admitted that over five million migrant labourers had returned to their home state.

    Meanwhile, India has reported over 6,500 new coronavirus cases and 194 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of COVID-19 cases in India climbed to 158,333 on Thursday, according to data released by the ministry of health and family welfare. 

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    Tags:
    Migrants, pandemic, COVID-19, Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Indian National Congress, India
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