Don’t put the ‘gamchha’ down: Tripura CM’s advice to fight coronavirus

Positive spin

The Congress’ leaderships in the states it runs held meetings on Saturday on what kind of relief it should organise for migrants heading home. Some said the party should be more visible in organising relief for people in view of the coronavirus lockdown. There was also a consensus that all Congress governments should come up with a common relief plan. Sources said Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would lead the relief measures. The Congress Working Committee is also set to meet in the next couple of days. The party believes that while it has criticised the Narendra Modi government for failing to act suitably to mitigate the economic distress caused to the poor, it should focus on positive aspects such as how its state governments are managing the situation more effectively.

A ‘towel’ alternative

While chemists and online retailers have exhausted their N95 face masks recommended for protection against coronavirus, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb (pictured) has offered a “cheaper and easily available” alternative. In a video uploaded on Twitter, Deb demonstrated how the traditional towel — known locally as gamchha — can be used instead. Addressing the people of Tripura, Deb urged them to “always keep a jal gamchha (towel)” handy because masks from Kolkata and Guwahati took time to reach the state. “Till the time the lockdown in the country goes, don’t put the gamchha down. This way every household in Tripura will have a ready-made mask available to them,” he said in the video.

Paswan’s misfire

There was much confusion after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman announced all 800 million beneficiaries of the public distribution system would get 5 kg extra food grain for free from their ration shops for the next three months, as part of the COVID-19 benefit plan. That’s because just a day before the announcement, Ram Vilas Paswan, minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, had tweeted that the government had decided to give 2 kg extra grain for free as part of the same programme. With the lockdown keeping journalists from seeking clarification, there was much debate as to the amount of increase till a statement from the government settled the argument in favour of 5 kg. But that still left one question unanswered: Why did Paswan make this hasty declaration?

First Published: Sun, March 29 2020. 22:48 IST

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