The Congress on Wednesday questioned the Central government over the criteria it adopted to judge how long the lockdown imposed to curb Coronavirus will continue and also accused it of non-cooperation in dealing with the pandemic, taking decisions arbitrarily without consulting them, and not providing them funds.
The Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states were deliberating on the extended lockdown situation with interim President Sonia Gandhi.
At the meeting, held via video conferencing, Sonia Gandhi questioned the exit strategy of the Centre post May 17 when lockdown 3.0 ends.
“After May 17th, what? and after May 17th, how? What criteria is the Government of India using to judge how long the lockdown is to continue,” she asked at the meeting which was also attended by Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“Chief Ministers need to deliberate and ask as to what is the strategy of the Government of India to get the country out of lockdown” Singh said. “We need to know, as Soniaji said, what will happen after lockdown 3.0?”
The third phase of the lockdown imposed although with some relaxations ends on May 17.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who spoke first, raised the demand of the stimulus package. “Until extensive stimulus package is given, how will states and country run? We have lost 10,000 crore of revenue. States have repeatedly requested Prime Minister for a package, but we are yet to hear from GOI,” Gehlot said.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who has set up two committees — one to strategise on how to come out of the lockdown and the other on economic revival — said, “Concern is people sitting in Delhi are deciding on classification of zones without knowing what’s happening on the ground.”
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said, “The States are facing dire economic crisis. They need to be provided immediate assistance.”
He said in his state 80 per cent of the Small Industries have restarted and nearly 85,000 workers have returned to work.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayansamy also accused the Centre of taking one sided decisions. “The Government of India is deciding on zones without consulting the states and this is creating an anomalous situation. People sitting in Delhi can’t tell the states. No State or CM is consulted. Why?” asked the Chief Minister.
“PM isn’t saying a word on the economic package for states,” he added.
In the meeting, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi suggested that the “central piece of strategy to fight COVID-19 is to protect the elderly as also those who are diabetic and with heart condition.”
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram stated, “States are bleeding in terms of finances, but no money is being allocated by GOI. A number of newspapers have brought out the unavailability of finances with states.”