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NEW DELHI: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that the nearly three month long nationwide lockdown imposed by Union government earlier this year to control the spread of coronavirus pandemic was an attack on poor of the country as it deeply impacted the unorganised sector.

Gandhi’s comments are part of his brief video messages which are being shared on his social media handles and are currently focused on the state of the economy. His statement is significant as it comes just days ahead of the beginning of monsoon session of Parliament where the Congress and other key opposition parties are planning to raise the issue of the Centre's handling of the pandemic and the socio-economic cost of the national lockdown.

“The lockdown was not an attack on corona. The lockdown was an attack on the poor of India. It was an attack on the future of our youth. The lockdown was an attack on labourers, farmers and small shopkeepers. It was an attack on our unorganised sector. We have to understand this. We all have to stand against this attack," Gandhi said in the nearly two-minute long video message shared on Wednesday morning.


“When it was time to open after the lockdown, the Congress party told the government several times that helping the poor is essential. A scheme like NYAY will have to be implemented, money needs to be directly deposited in bank accounts. But they did not do it," Gandhi added.

NYAY or the Nyuntam Aay Yojana is the minimum income guarantee pitch of Congress party pushed forth in its Lok Sabha campaign last year where the party faced its second worst electoral defeat. Congress has been pushing for a minimum income guarantee scheme particularly in the backdrop of the impact that the lockdown has had on the unorganised sector.

The timing of Gandhi’s short video releases, a dedicated Telegram channel, interaction with experts on key issues are all being seen by a section of party leaders as a bid for his image makeover. The development comes amidst a growing chorus for his return to the top post in the party and the recent leadership crisis following which Congress president Sonia Gandhi said she would continue in the top post till the process for selecting her successor gets completed.
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