On easing curbs, Modi tells CMs it was "people's will"
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video-conference with Chief Ministers of all states, his fifth such interaction since the coronavirus pandemic attacked India. He said some curbs were relaxed keeping people's interest in mind. He was referring to the Shramik special trains, started to ferry migrant workers home, and other 15 special trains which will run from tomorrow.
From the Centre, the meeting was attended by PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, and Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan. Unlike the previous meetings, when a selected number of CMs spoke, today's meeting was open for all. This interaction, in the final week of the third phase of coronavirus-induced lockdown, assumes significance as PM Modi discussed an exit strategy.
According to PTI, the need to kickstart the economy in a calibrated manner and containment strategy were discussed in the meeting. PM Modi is learned to have told CMs that certain decisions were changed because it's "human nature" to rush home during times of distress. The meeting started at 3 pm and officials had said earlier it would go on till "proceedings continue".
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was among the first CMs to speak, accused Centre of playing politics by using COVID-19. The Trinamool chief has been slammed by Centre recently over the low testing in her state, the fudged data, and the attacks on health-care officials. On Saturday, Shah wrote to Banerjee saying Bengal wasn't cooperating in the transportation of migrant workers.
Reports said the federal government is still undecided on lifting the lockdown completely. "Our understanding is every chief minister favors graded relaxation. They want more liberalization in the next version of guidelines... this will be a consultative process," a senior government functionary, who is also part of Centre's COVID-19 taskforce, told IE. The last time PM Modi interacted with CMs was on April 27.