12:55 GMT24 June 2021
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    India's national healthcare system is struggling to deal with the second wave of COVID, with thousands waiting for hospital beds, oxygen, and ventilators every day. The Narendra Modi-led government is facing a massive backlash by putting election rallies and religious gatherings before pandemic preparedness.

    Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday asked how long Indians will continue to suffer the cruelty of the federal government as the basic problems arising from the COVID-19 crisis have yet to be resolved.

    “How long will our countrymen bear the cruelty of the federal government in this epidemic,” Gandhi tweeted in Hindi. 

    ​In another tweet, sharing a news clip saying that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to launch a "positivity campaign" on COVID-19, he said, “Narendra Modi's government is trying to ignore truths and spreading negative information about the pandemic by burying its head in the sand.”

    ​“The false conscience of positive thinking is a joke on all the healthcare workers and families who have lost their loved ones and are suffering oxygen, hospital and drug shortages,” he added. “Hiding your head in the sand is not being positive, it is cheating the countrymen.”

    According to local media reports, the BJP and its ideological mentor organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, are planning to begin a campaign to connect better with the people and highlight the positive work being done by the government, especially during COVID-19.

    In a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 12 Opposition parties such as Congress, National Congress Party, DMK and Trinamool Congress have urged Modi's government to begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country immediately as the COVID-19 pandemic has “assumed unprecedented dimensions of a human catastrophe”.

    “Begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign immediately across the country. Enact compulsory licensing to increase domestic vaccine production,” they noted.

    Opposition parties have suggested nine steps to the government to fight the pandemic which has spread in rural India in the past few weeks. The parties urged the government to cancel the $3 billion Central Vista project to redevelop the administrative area in Delhi and instead use the money to procure oxygen and vaccines.

    Opposition leaders have also demanded that a basic sustenance allowance be paid to vulnerable families who have lost their job during the pandemic.

    India has reported more than 300,000 new infections every day since 22 April. On 7 May, it hit a new record by crossing the 414,000 mark for new cases, the highest single-day tally by any country in the world.

    According to the Health Ministry, India has registered 348,421 new COVID-19 cases and at least 4,205 deaths in the past 24 hours. The total caseload has exceeded 23 million, with more than 254,197 lives lost since the onset of the pandemic.



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