Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held an all-party meeting via videoconference to discuss the fight against coronavirus as the number of cases in the country climbed to 5,194.
Continuing with a series of meetings over the past few days via video link, PM Modi met with floor leaders of parties whose combined strength in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha adds up to 5 MPs.
Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP leader SC Mishra, Lok Janshakti Party’s Chirag Paswan, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and DMK leader TR Baalu were among those who joined the video-con.
Last week, the Prime Minister had reached out to opposition leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and had asked for suggestions in India’s efforts to check the rapid spread of coronavirus and tackling the fallout. He also spoke with former presidents Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee and former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda.
India has recorded 149 deaths linked to coronavirus, with 35 in the last 24 hours – the biggest jump so far.
The 21-day lockdown announced by PM Modi on March 24 is to end on April 14 but many states have requested an extension, given the spurt in COVID-19 cases and warnings that the infection could peak in the coming weeks.
The government will take a final call on the lockdown after PM Modi’s second meeting with Chief Ministers via video conference on Saturday.
Sources say the government is considering the requests to continue the lockdown, however, with the impact on the economy in focus, the restrictions may be lifted in grades.
A Group of Ministers has suggested that schools, colleges and religious centres remain shut for more weeks. Public transport may also remain largely shut.