New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday that India must help all countries in their fight against coronavirus but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians first.
“Friendship isn’t about retaliation. India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first,” he said on Twitter.
Gandhi’s reaction came after the Ministry of External Affairs said that India would to export anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to several countries including those in the neighbourhood on a case-by-case basis in sync with its commitment to the international community to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Hydroxychloroquine is an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria.
In a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, President Donald Trump sought supply of hydroxychloroquine to the US to treat coronavirus infected people.
On Monday, Trump warned India that the US may retaliate if it did not export hydroxychloroquine despite his personal request.
Reacting to the development, the Congress, in a tweet, said, “A friendship with conditions, is no friendship at all. BJP govt should reassess all that it’s doing for foreign nations. PM Modi must prioritise the needs of our citizens first & foremost.”
“It is embarrassing for the entire country that Donald Trump threatens retaliation if Indian government did not allow supply of medicines. PM Narendra Modi who wasted one full month and Rs 100 crore for ‘Namaste Trump’, has now meekly surrendered and has revoked the ban on exports of medicines,” tweeted Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil.
Last month, India banned export of hydroxychloroquine in the midst of views that the drug could be used as potential anti-viral agent to protect healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients from the infection.
India has received requests from several other countries including its immediate neighbours Sri Lanka and Nepal for supply of hydroxychloroquine.