Lockdown unlikely to be lifted on April 14: PM at all-party meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting with parliamentary floor leaders of both Houses on April 8 said it didn’t seem possible that the countrywide lockdown can be lifted as per the original schedule of April 14, but added that he will consult the Chief Ministers before deciding the exit strategy.

The meeting went on for nearly three-and-a-half hours. The Prime Minister heard everyone’s concerns and spoke about the ongoing lockdown. He said that as per the advice and information that he has been receiving it looks difficult to end the lockdown on April 14.

Also read: Government mulls lockdown extension amid requests from the States

Speaking to The Hindu, senior Biju Janata Dal leader Pinaki Misra said, “PM told us that it doesn’t seem likely to lift the lockdown for now. He didn’t give a deadline, but said that he will be consulting the Chief Ministers.”

Mr. Misra said he flagged the urgent need to refinance the industries and ensure cash in the hands of labourers who find themselves out of job because of the lock down.

“The rescue package that the government announced is extremely limited and will not help. Most countries have drawn up a package worth at least 10% of the GDP. In case of India by the same calculations it should have been 15-20 lakh crore. So far the government has only announced 2 lakh crores,” Mr Misra added. The industries, especially the MSME sector needs massive refinancing, he said.

Data: The lockdown effect on jobs in India

BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party too demanded that the lockdown should be lifted in a phased manner ensuring no inter-State transport. LJP president Chirag Paswan who attended the meeting said that the restriction should be far stricter in the urban areas. “The harvesting season has begun, so we told PM to ensure that the farmer is not inconvenienced during the lock down and harvesting can go on without any trouble,” Mr Paswan said.

On behalf of the DMK, Lok Sabha floor leader T.R. Baalu attended the meeting. Minutes after the meeting, DMK president M.K.Stalin in a tweet said, “During today’s all party meeting with @PMOIndia, our floor leader TR Baalu stressed on the low testing numbers, inadequate PPEs, TN’s fund allocation, #MPLADS cut, and other issues. DMK and its cadre extend their full support to fight COVID-19.”

The CPI(M) was represented by Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem, who among other things demanded that the union government should immediately release all pending dues to the state governments. Citing Kerala’s example he said that GST compensation arrears of nearly ₹3000 crore is pending. “Central assistance provided to the state of Kerala for COVID relief is ₹157 crore. It’s is only 1.4 per cent of the total ₹11,091 crores allocated nationally,” he said, seeking a hike in financial assistance to the State.

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