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Lockdown won't end in 'one go'

With COVID-19 cases showing no signs of abating in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said it was unlikely that the nationwide lockdown would be lifted in "one go" after it ends on April 14.

Interacting with floor leaders of opposition and other parties in Parliament via video conferencing, the Prime Minister said the situation in the country was akin to a "social emergency" and that it has necessitated tough decisions. He asserted that the priority of his government was to "save each and every life".

"The situation in the country is akin to a social emergency…it has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant," Modi told the leaders, according to an official statement. He also said that states, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the ongoing lockdown beyond April 14 to stem the spread of the virus.

According to BJD's Pinaki Misra, who attended the meeting, PM Modi told floor leaders of opposition and other parties in Parliament that the lockdown will not be lifted in one go. "Prime Minister Modi made it clear that lockdown is not being lifted and also that the life pre-corona and post-corona will not be same," Misra was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The Prime Minister will also hold a video conference with all Chief Ministers in this regard on April 11.

Those participated in the meet included Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, and Nationalist Congress Party head Sharad Pawar.

According to PTI, leaders were briefed by secretaries of various ministries—health, home and rural development —on the actions taken by the government to tackle COVID-19 and mitigate the hardships arising out of the lockdown. Several opposition leaders raised the issue of shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers in the country while few also suggested that construction of the new parliament building should be avoided, PTI reported.

The PM's meeting with political leaders comes even as the central government is considering extending the lockdown across the country beyond April 14 after several states have favoured the extension to contain the fast-spreading virus. As of today, the number of confirmed cases has increased to 5274, including 149 deaths.

Aside from Azad, Pawar and Pinaki, others who attended the virtual meet included, Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Satish Misra (Bahujan Samaj Party), Chirag Paswan (Lok Janshakti Party), T R Baalu (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), Sukhbir Singh Badal (Shiromani Akali Dal), Rajiv Ranjan Singh (Janata Dal-United), and Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena).

This was prime minister's first interaction with the floor leaders, including those from the Opposition, after the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 25, though he had held interactions with chief ministers of all states including those ruled by non-NDA parties. He has also held interactions with various stakeholders, including doctors, journalists and heads of Indian missions to get a feedback on ways to check the spread of coronavirus.

He also recently spoke to various political party heads including Congress' Sonia Gandhi, TMC's Mamata Banerjee and DMK's MK Stalin and discussed the COVID-19 situation. He had also talked to former presidents Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee, and former prime ministers HD Deve Gowda and Manmohan Singh.

(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)

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