Congress targets BJP government with “Speak Up India ” campaign

Direct cash transfer, safe transport of migrants, free ration, a financial package for MSME and increasing MGNREGA workdays to 200 were the main raised through the campaign.

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday led the party’s ‘Speak up India’ campaign, asking the government to come to the rescue of lakhs of labourers and small traders who continue to battle the economic impact COVID19 and the lockdown.

Key demands raised through the campaign:

  1. Direct cash transfer of Rs. 7,500 per month for a period of six months for poor households
  2. Distribution of free ration to the needy
  3. A financial package to help the MSME
  4. Safe transportation of the stranded migrants back to their native towns and villages
  5. Increasing the workdays under MGNREGA to 200

With the Centre indifferent to a slew of demands raised by the Congress party for easing the burden of the ongoing lockdown on common citizens, the Grand Old Party, on Thursday, launched a massive social media campaign – #SpeakUpIndia – to urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to take immediate corrective measures.

In two video messages today, Sonia said the government must immediately open its coffers and help the needy and if it feels constrained about finances, it should scrap the costly Central Vista project that seeks to build a new Parliament complex and government buildings and use that money to feed the vulnerable.

In her morning message, Sonia cited the travails of migrant labourers who continue to walk back home thousands of kilometres without food and water and asked the government to arrange their free transport back to their home states.

“It is for the first time since Independence that the country has witnessed such a scale of pain and trauma, with lakhs of famished labourers forced to walk hundreds of kilometres in the absence of transport,” said Sonia, accusing the government of not doing enough for the poor.

The campaign launched simultaneously on social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp at 11 am, saw scores of Congress leaders, including interim party chief Sonia Gandhi, Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra share video messages, listing out their demands from the government.

The key demands raised by Congress leaders and workers, through the campaign, were for direct cash transfer of Rs. 7,500 per month for a period of six months for poor households, distribution of free ration to the needy, a financial package to help the MSME, safe transportation of the stranded migrants back to their native towns and villages and increasing the workdays under MGNREGA to 200. These were also part of an 11-point charter of demands agreed upon by 22 Opposition parties, who had held a video conference with the interim Congress president recently to discuss ways of forcing the Centre’s hand to provide relief to the citizens over and above the Rs. 20 lakh crore economic package, which was announced by Modi in his last televised address to the nation a fortnight ago.

The Congress party had directed its leaders, functionaries and social media volunteers – AICC office bearers, chief minister’s, state, district, and booth level functionaries numbering around 50 lakh across the country – to post video messages raising these demands on various social media platforms between 11 am and 2 pm on Thursday. Social media volunteers of the Congress party were also directed to share these messages through WhatsApp and other messaging services.

The campaign, the first such effort by the Congress party during the lockdown,  triggered a Twitter storm between 11 AM and 2 PM, making #SpeakUpIndia the top trend on the microblogging site with nearly 2 lakh posts using the hashtag.

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