Sonia Gandhi asks PM Modi about his next step – After May 17th, what?

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, on Wednesday during a virtual conference with leaders of congress-ruled states, asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, about his plan ahead to deal with the coronavirus as the nation moved into the third lockdown on 1 May. The two-week lockdown is expected to be lifted on 17 May. The meeting was attended by four of Congress Chief Ministers (Punjab’s Amarinder Singh, Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel and Puducherry’s V. Narayanasam) and some senior party members including Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram, and Rahul Gandhi.

“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?” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala quoted Gandhi as saying in the video conference with CMs.

The Congress president also raised the issue lack of financial assistance from the centre to the state governments, especially the ones ruled by the Congress party. All the four CMs unanimously held the view that the centre was responsible for the states’s deteriorating economic health, asking how the government expected them to fight Covid-19 crisis without any economic stimulus.

Surjewala told reporters that all four CMs would again write to Prime Minister Modi, asking for economic assistance. The lockdown, imposed to control the deadly contagion, has costed states thousands of crores, as industries and business actives have come to a halt.

During the meet, Mr. Gehlot said, “We have lost Rs 10,000 crore of revenue. States have repeatedly requested the PM for a package but we are yet to hear from GOI.”

The ministers also questioned centre’s classification of the Covid-impact zone (red, orange and green) as they accused the government of making random assumptions sitting in their air conditioned offices, far away from the ground reality.

Mr. Narayanasamy took to Twitter on Wednesday saying, “Govt of India is deciding on zones without consulting the States and this is creating anomalous situation. People sitting in Delhi can’t tell the States, No State or Chief Minister is consulted. Why?Prime Minister is not saying a word on economic package for States.”

Besides, the CMs discussed the plight of migrant workers in their states and told Ms Gandhi that they were also bearing the cost of travel for the migrant workers (Rs 870 per ticket), while the GOI sat quietly in Delhi.

Former Prime Minister and one of the country’s finest economist, Manmohan Singh asked Mr. Modi about the government’s strategy, saying, “we need to know what will happen after lockdown 3.0.” Whereas Rahul Gandhi urged the government to take back its decision to raise petrol and diesel prices by Rs 10-13 per litre, which he said was “unfair”. Leaders demanded PM Modi to speak up over the matter as the nation was moving towards lifting of the lockdown, and it was imperative for the government to provide more clear and precise directions.

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