‘What after May 17?’: Congress asks govt to reveal lockdown exit strategy
New Delhi: The Congress party on Wednesday questioned the Centre over the criteria it adopted to judge how long the COVID-19-induced lockdown will continue and also asked to reveal the steps that will be taken after the curbs are lifted.
Addressing a meeting of chief ministers of states where Congress is in power, party president Sonia Gandhi asked: “what after May 17?.” “After May 17th, What? and After May 17th, How?…what criteria is GoI (government of India) using to judge how long the lockdown is to continue…,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala quoted Sonia Gandhi as saying in the video conference with CMs.
The third phase of the lockdown ends on May 17. The first phase started on March 24 and ended on April 15. On April 14, the prime minister announced an extension of two more weeks till May 3.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was also present at the meeting, said, “We need to know, as Soniaji said, what will happen after lockdown 3.0?”. “Soniaji has already pointed out. CM’s need to deliberate and ask as to what is the strategy of the government of India to get the country out of lockdown,” Singh asked.
During the meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh slammed the Centre for ‘sitting in Delhi and deciding on classification of zones without knowing what’s happening on the ground.’ He also said that he has set up two committees, one to strategise on how to come out of the lockdown and the other on economic revival.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot put forward a demand for an extensive stimulus package. He said states have repeatedly requested the prime minister for a package, “but we are yet to hear from the government of India”. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said, “States are facing dire economic crisis. They need to be provided immediate assistance.” He said Chattisgarh is one state where 80 per cent of Small Industries have restarted and nearly 85,000 workers have returned to work.
After the government announced lockdown 3.0, Congress questioned the rationale behind the extension. “What is the aim of lockdown 3.0? What is the purpose, the objective and the strategy? Will there be a lockdown 4.0 and lockdown 5.0? When will it end completely? What is the goalpost to deal with coronavirus and the economic pandemic by May 17.What are the achievable goals by May 17 to deal with the infection and to address livelihood challenges and the huge economic crisis?” Randeep Surjewala asked. (With inputs from PTI)