Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated on 8 April at an all-party meeting that the lockdown imposed to check the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID). According to sources, the prime minister said that there the fight against COVID was a long one.
Saving the lives of all is the priority of the government, Modi reportedly said during the meeting. The prime minister said that the situation in the country was similar to that of a “social emergency”. “We need to make strict decisions and be constantly vigilant,” he said.
The prime minister told the representatives of all parties that he would once again talk to the chief ministers of all the states. Through video conferencing today, Prime Minister Modi discussed COVID and lockdown with the floor leaders of the BJP, INC, DMK, AIADMK, TRS, CPIM, TMC, Shiv Sena, NCP, Akali Dal, LJP, JDU, SP, BSP, YSR Congress and BJD.
While the parties had arrived for the meeting with somewhat varied opinions, as the floor leaders of political parties attended the meeting to discuss the ways of phasing out the lockdown, as sooner or later the economy had to be allowed to function again. Sources said it was a near-unanimous point of view that the lockdown should not be withdrawn in haste.
In the meeting, Modi said that the state, district administration and experts have advised that the lockdown be extended to prevent the spread of the virus. The prime minister said that under these changing circumstances, the country should simultaneously try to bring changes in its work culture and working style.
Sources said this implies an emphasis on online platforms to run the economy to the extent possible without involving human movements.
This conclusion was a repeat of that in the prime minister’s interactions with the union ministers on 6 April, except that the participants in that previous meeting were more eager to unleash the economy sooner.
Modi said that the priority of the government was to save the life of everyone. “Due to COVID, we are facing serious economic challenges and the government is committed to deal with it,” he said.
Most (80% of) political parties are in favour of extending the lockdown. the prime minister said that he was getting a similar demand from the states and that he would discuss with the stakeholders in due time and make a decision.
Modi may make the decision final after consulting the chief ministers of all the states via video conferencing. This video call conferencing will take place at 11 AM on 11 April.
If the meeting with the chief ministers arrive at the same decision of extending the lockdown, it would be the second extension of the virtual curfew. At the first instance, the government had decided to stop people’s movement till 31 March. The prime minister had later announced the lockdown would go on up to 14 April.
In the meeting that the prime minister has scheduled with the chief ministers, the government will provide a review of the amount of aid and ration that must be supplied to the needy.
Many states have already requested Prime Minister Modi to continue with the lockdown.