Bengaluru: Minutes after Nirmala Sitharaman, the finance minister, announced a slew of measures to counter the challenges being faced as a result of coronavirus pandemic, former AICC chief Rahul Gandhi put out a tweet, praising the Centre for its decision to help the less fortunate. 

He said in his tweet, “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 & the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown.”


This behaviour of Rahul Gandhi comes as a welcome move amid the coronavirus pandemic. A few days ago, Gandhi had criticised the government over its handling of the pandemic, rather than stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this hour of crisis. 

In fact, what came as embarrassing for the former AICC chief, Karti Chidambaram had himself urged the opposition not to play politics over the issue and help it out in whatever manner possible. 
Even when Janata curfew was announced, three senior Congress leaders – Kapil Sibal, Chidambaram and Shashi Tharoor – had thrown their weight behind the PM. 

Earlier today, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a financial package worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore to help the country ease the financial burden. 

Here are the highlights: 

PM Garib Anna Yojna:

Each poor will get 5 kg grains per person per month for the next three months for free, one kg of pulses for each household for free. This will be over and above the current 5 kg they get under NFSA.

Cash transfer based on DBT:

Farmers who get Rs 6,000 annually under PM-Kisan will get first installment of Rs 2,000 in addition which will be given immediately in the first week of April.

Jan Dhan Yojana account holders:

These holders will be given an additional amount of Rs 500 for the next three months.

Gas cylinders:

Free replacement of gas cylinders for all Ujwala gas subsidy scheme beneficiaries (Over 8.3 crore) for three months.

For the organized sector:

Govt of India will pay the EPF contribution both of the employer and employee (12% each) for the next 3 months.

FM said, “This is only for those establishments which have up to 100 employees, where 90% of employees earning less than Rs 15000 per month.”

Construction workers:

Additionally, she said, “Directions will be given to State Governments to utilize the amount of Rs 31,000 crores lying in the Building and Construction Workers Welfare fund to help 3.5 crore registered workers.”