Coronavirus | Centre is taking arbitrary decisions, say Congress Chief Ministers

Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan question strategy on lockdown exit.

Updated - June 19, 2020 06:26 pm IST

Published - May 06, 2020 12:37 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi interacts with party Chief Ministers on May 6, 2020. Photo: Twitter/@INCIndia via PTI

Congress president Sonia Gandhi interacts with party Chief Ministers on May 6, 2020. Photo: Twitter/@INCIndia via PTI

At a videoconference with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday, the Chief Ministers of the party-ruled States accused the Union government of taking decisions without consulting the States and not providing them with adequate funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting, attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Union Ministers P. Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, was convened to discuss the policy to exit lockdown 3.0, scheduled to end on May 17.

Also read |  Congress with people in fight against COVID-19: Sonia

“After May 17th, what? And after May 17th, how? What criteria are the Government of India using to judge how long the lockdown is to continue...?” Ms. Gandhi said at the meeting.

Endorsing her statement, Dr. Singh said, “The CMs need to deliberate and ask as to what is the strategy of the Government of India to get the country out of the lockdown.”

Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Wayanad MP, said the central piece of the strategy to fight COVID-19 was “to protect the elderly as also those who are diabetic and have a heart condition”.

Also read |  India can’t conquer COVID-19 without aggressive testing, says Manmohan Singh

Mr. Chidambaram said, “States are bleeding in terms of finances, but no money is being allocated by the government of India. A number of newspapers have brought out the unavailability of finances with States.”

Punjab committees

Giving details of the meeting on Twitter, Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala wrote Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had informed that his government had set up two committees: to strategise on how to come out of the lockdown and to suggest measures for economic revival. “Concern is people sitting in Delhi are deciding on classification of zones without knowing what’s happening on the ground,” he was quoted as saying by Mr. Surjewala.

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Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayansamy, too, said the Centre was deciding on zones without consulting the States and creating “an anomalous situation”. “People sitting in Delhi can’t tell the States. No State or CM is consulted. Why? The PM is not saying a word on an economic package for the States,” he said.

Both Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel highlighted the precarious financial situation of the States in the absence of Central assistance.

Also read | Chidambaram slams govt for ‘squeezing’ money out of people

“Until an extensive stimulus package is given, how will the States and the country run? We have lost ₹10,000 crore of revenue. The States have repeatedly requested the Prime Minister for a package, but we are yet to hear from the Government of India,” Mr. Gehlot said.

Mr. Baghel said 80% of the small industries in his State had resumed operations and nearly 85,000 workers had returned to work.

Days after Ms. Gandhi asked the Congress State units to pay for the travel cost of the migrants, the Chief Ministers discussed the issue. Mr. Amarinder Singh said, “₹35 crore has been set aside, and the Railways is charging ₹870 per ticket, which the State is paying.”

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