Sonia Gandhi today questioned the government’s decision-making on the extended coronavirus lockdown and asked, “What after May 17?” At a meeting of chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had the same question.
India went into a nationwide lockdown on March 25 to slow the spread of coronavirus. Since then, the shutdown has been extended twice, on April 14 and May 4. The third phase will end on May 17, but restrictions have been eased in the areas less affected by the virus.
“After May 17th, What? And After May 17th, How? What criteria is the government using to judge how long the lockdown is to continue,” Sonia Gandhi said in the meeting via video link, according to Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
Manmohan Singh, who spoke after the Congress president, said, “We need to know, as Soniaji said, what will happen after lockdown 3.0.”
Chief Ministers, said the former PM, needed to deliberate and ask what the strategy of the government of India was to get the country out of the lockdown.
Among the chief ministers who voiced concern about the lockdown being extended and its economic impact was Punjab’s Amarinder Singh.
“The concern is that people sitting in Delhi are deciding on the classification of COVID-19 zones without knowing what is happening on the ground,” Mr Singh said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot echoed the worry, calling for a central relief package. “Until extensive stimulus package is given, how will the states and the country run? We have lost Rs 10,000 crore revenue.”
Former Union Minister P Chidambaram alleged that states were “bleeding”, yet the centre had not allocated any money.
Sonia Gandhi had on Monday announced that the Congress would pay for the train journey home of migrants stranded by the lockdown for over a month. She also criticised the central government for charging them train fare.
The centre denied it, asserting that it had subsidized the ticket by 85 per cent and it was up to states to come forward and pay the rest.