The BJP on Friday asserted that the prime minister has been consulting state chief ministers and subject experts in dealing with COVID-19 as it asked Rahul Gandhi to act with "wisdom and practicality" and "fight the biggest calamity in human history under the able guidance" of Narendra Modi.
Taking a swipe at Gandhi after he asked the prime minister to devolve power and make chief ministers partners in fighting the pandemic, BJP spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Sudhanshu Trivedi said the "ever youthful Congress leader who is about to complete a half century now at least should have some wisdom and practicality".
Trivedi said the Modi government has been very much receptive to suggestions from the opposition but it should be constructive and added that it is very typical and characteristic of Gandhi to speak before media without studying facts.
The government has already announced a relief package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore and has also ensured money in the hands of the poor through direct benefit transfer to help them tide over difficulties during the coronavirus crisis, he said, responding to Gandhi's demands of a special package and cash transfer to the poor.
Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee has also praised the direct money transfer, he said. In his recent conversation with the Congress leader, Banerjee had noted that the issues facing migrants should be handled by local authorities, Trivedi said.
He added, "It's not time to create controversy directly or indirectly. Instead it is time for cooperation and he should try to fight the biggest calamity in the human history under the able guidance of our prime minister."
The BJP leader invoked former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's poem "Aao milkar diya jalayein" to seek the former Congress president's cooperation, likening the pandemic to a case of the sun being eclipsed at noon.
Gandhi would have got a better grip on the situation if he had discussed it with his senior party leaders and chief ministers, he said.
India is the only country where there are attacks on health and security personnel for which the government had to bring an ordinance to tackle such crimes, he said, adding that there is an effort to commualise the issue, with international agencies being approached to criticise the central government.
Trivedi was apparently referring to the allegations that right-wing activists have targeted Muslims for the spread of coronavirus.
International bodies, he said, have supported the government's measures in combating the coronavirus.
He noted that before the lockdown was extended beyond April 14 by Modi, states like Maharashtra, Punjab, Odisha and Telangana had already done it. All of them are opposition-rules states, he added.
Earlier at a press conference, Gandhi said the fight against COVID-19 cannot be just from the PMO and asked the prime minister to devolve power and make the states partner in decision-making.
Gandhi said there will be a "calamity" if the fight against coronavirus is centralised. He also asked the government to adopt transparency in its actions to tackle coronavirus and work together with states.
His remarks came after complaints by Congress-ruled states that they were being pushed into fiscal distress in the absence of the Centre providing them resources to fight the pandemic.