Shortly after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an economic package for eight categories of people including farmers and daily wage workers believed to be the worst hit due to the complete lockdown, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi called it a first step in the right direction. He said India owed a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women and the elderly who were bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown.
"The Govt announcement today of a financial assistance package, is the first step in the right direction. India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women and the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown" Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet. The Congress had been putting pressure on the Centre to announce a package for people and industries that are likely to be hit by 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Nirmala Sitharaman came out with a relief package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore to help farmers, migrant workers, urban and rural poor, women, MGNREGA workers and divyang (differently abled). Among the key announcements are three free cooking gas cylinders for the next three months under the Ujjwala Scheme, an ex-gratia amount of Rs 500 per month for the next three months to women with Jan Dhan accounts, and an additional one time ex-gratia amount of Rs 1,000 in two installments over the next three months to old aged persons, widows and divyangs. The MGNREGA workers will get a hike of Rs 2000 for the next three months.
Aditionally, the Finance Minister also announced Rs 50 lakh medical insurance cover to the frontline warriors- ASHA workers, doctors, nurses, and paramedics.
It was expected that the government would also announce some relief package for the industries but the finance minister said that the Centre was studying the situation and appropriate measures would be taken in future.