On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with the Chief Ministers of various states and Union Territories via a video conference. The meeting revolved around analyzing the situation of the coronavirus crisis in various regions and gathering suggestions regarding the 21-day lockdown that came into effect from the midnight of March 24.
The main purpose of the conference was to gather inputs and decide whether the 21-day lockdown needs to be extended or not. The lockdown is slated to end on April 14. Some of the attendees were Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, among others.
PM Modi and the majority of the Chief Ministers were seen sporting a mask during the video conference that began at 11 AM. Prime Minister Modi initiated the talks by saying, “I am in contact with all of you. If there is anything important, we can talk on the phone. I am available for you 24×7.” He further added, “The Centre and state governments must work shoulder-to-shoulder on a defined strategy to save the country from losing any more to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh favored the extension of the nationwide lockdown till April 30. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee placed her demand for a special package to be released by the central government to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal laid stress on rapid and large scale testing. While Amarinder Singh asked for a fast supply of rapid testing kits, Arvind Kejriwal expressed the need to ramp up testing facilities. Both the CMs also made special requests for farmers. The Punjab CM suggested that special concessions should be provided for the industries and the agriculture sector, while CM Kejriwal recommended the provision of a bonus to farmers.
“Even if the central government is considering easing restrictions, under no circumstances should transport on roads, railways or air be opened at this time,” Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said.
The Union Home Ministery has also asked the Chief Ministers to submit their advice on whether more sectors of service should be given exemptions or not.
This was Prime Minister’s second video conference with the Chief Ministers. PM Modi’s first virtual meeting with the CMs was held on March 20 in which he took suggestions for combating the coronavirus outbreak.