NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the COVID-19 pandemic has created a social emergency-like situation in the country and lifting the lockdown may not be desirable at this stage.
Interacting with floor leaders of political parties in Parliament through video-conferencing on Wednesday, Modi said the world is currently facing grave challenges due to COVID-19 and “We must evolve to counter its impact.”
The PM has already held similar virtual interaction with all chief ministers twice in the recent past. He will again meet the CMs on April 11 through video-conferencing where he is likely to unveil the roadmap to contain the pandemic as the 21-day lockdown ends on April 14.
In a two-minute video clip that surfaced on social media in the afternoon, Modi is heard telling the leaders that given the gravity of the ground situation there is no option but to continue with the lockdown.
The video was allegedly leaked by one of the participants, which invited censure from the PMO which termed it unfortunate.
“The country has been forced to take tough decisions and must continue to remain vigilant. Several state governments, district administrations and experts have asked for an extension of the phase of lockdown,” Modi told the political leaders.
He added the country should simultaneously try to bring about a change in its work culture and working style. Modi assured them that serious economic challenges would be overcome.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said 80% of the participants spoke in favour of extension of the lockdown period.
A number of Opposition parties, including TMC, urged the Prime Minister to revoke the decision to suspend the MPLAD funds for two years.
“Suspension of the MPLAD will affect the development works at the grass-root level,” said Sudeep Bandyopadhyay, leader of the TMC in the Lok Sabha, who also sought a financial moratorium for West Bengal.
Leader of the DMK in Lok Sabha T R Baalu stressed on low testing numbers while seeking the Central intervention to address the issue of inadequate PPEs.
Final call on lockdown likely on April 11
Modi will hold his third virtual meeting with all chief ministers on April 11, three days before the 21-day lockdown ends. Based on inputs from the CMs, the PM will decide whether the lockdown should continue.