Terming the economic package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, a "hoax" and mere "political rhetoric", the Left parties on Thursday said the government has played a cruel joke on the poor of the country.
The government on Thursday announced a Rs 3.16 lakh crore package of free foodgrains for migrant workers, concessional credit to farmers and working capital loan for street vendors as part of the second tranche of the fiscal stimulus to heal an economy hit by the coronavirus-led lockdown.
"The package did not address any of the fundamental issues plaguing the country. It is all a hoax and a cruel joke on the poor. What the migrants need is free transportation so that they can reach home," said CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
Additionally, a cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month should be given to the poor who have lost their jobs, said Yechury, adding that the poor should also be given 10 kg foodgrain per month for three months.
The CPI(M) general secretary added that the surplus foodgrain in godowns should be used to feed the poor rather than letting it rot.
CPI general secretary D Raja said the package announced by the finance minister was "mere statistics and did not mean anything".
"This is nothing but political rhetoric and statistical jugglery. There is nothing substantial in her address. Migrant labourers are on roads walking thousands of kilometers, what is the government's reaction to this?" he asked.
"Instead they are saying the workers will get jobs once they reach home through MNREGA. The rural poor are already not getting adequate jobs and wages, it's irrational. She did not mention anything about urban employment," he said.
At a news conference, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said eight crore migrant workers will get five kgs of grains and one kg of pulses free for two months, while 50 lakh street vendors rendered jobless by the lockdown would be given a working capital loan of Rs 10,000 each.
As many as 2.5 crore farmers will be provided Rs 2 lakh crore of concessional credit through Kisan Credit Cards.
Yechury also asserted that most of the relief for the poor like street vendors have come in form of loans which is not an immediate relief.
Raja also demanded a one time waiver of loans and a fiscal package from the government.
Raja warned that if measures are not taken soon, there will be more deaths due to hunger than the coronavirus infection.