PM VIDEO MEET .. PM Modi holds video meet with CMs, hints more relaxations on lock-down

NEW DELHI: States like Kerala on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give more leeway to them to make reasonable changes to the general guidelines being issued by the Centre on lockdown conditions. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan pointed out that the Covid situations differed from state to state, and hence states required freedom to act within the general guidelines issued at the national level. 

The proposal was made when the Prime Minister held his fifth video conference with chief ministers on Monday. This time, all the CMs were allowed time to speak, unlike the last time when only a few were given the time.

While several state CMs appreciated early resumption of train and other services, as the Centre has already begun doing in a small way from this week, Tamil Nadu chief minister Palanisamy wanted it to be postponed for more time, as the state was not out of the woods so far.

The Prime Minister, who was present with Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. heard the views of CMs and would take a suitable decision on the fresh lockdown conditions and relaxations by tomorrow. 

The PM noted that some trains have started running for migrant labour, as they were feeling home sick, and this must be handled sympathetically. Also, more special trains would start, as the first step towards normalization of the scenario in the coming days. He also noted that flight services were also started to get back stranded Indians from abroad, while Indian Navy has pressed ships into service to get people back to their states based on urgency. 

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was among the first CMs to speak, started in her usual ambivalent style, went on a tangent, criticising the Centre and saying it was playing politics in relation to Covid-related matters too. The PM heard her out with a smile. 

In all, eight states wanted an extension of the lockdown: They were Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Delhi. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal however pleaded for start of activities outside the containment zones.

The Prime Minister told the CMs that relaxations in lockdown conditions will continue step by step, on a gradual scale. However, the world as a whole will be different in the post Covid period, from what it was before the pre-Covid period. Like the periods before and after the World Wars, he pointed out. Full normalcy in public life will not be easy in the near future. However, step by step economic and other activities will be revived.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement quoting the PM after the six-hour long video conference starting from 3pm: “I am of the firm view that the measures needed in the first phase of lockdown were not needed during the second phase and similarly the measures needed in the third phase are not needed in the fourth.” 

The PM told the CMs: “ I request you all to share with me by 15 May, a broad strategy on how you each one of you would want to deal with the lockdown regime in your particular states. I want states to make a blue print on how to deal with various nuances during and after the gradual easing of the lockdown.” The minister said social distancing will remain the biggest weapon in the fight against the pandemic before a vaccine is available. —IHN-NN


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