Modi calls up former Presidents & PMs, Congress chief

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called up former presidents Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Deva Gowda, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao and others to discuss the situation amid lockdown.

This comes ahead of the PM’s scheduled videoconferencing with the leaders of all political parties on April 8, amid criticism that he had not held talks with the opposition leaders or sought their suggestions on how to combat the pandemic.

Other opposition leaders who received calls from the PM are: SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav, BSP’s Mayawati, DMK’s MK Stalin and SAD’s Parkash Singh Badal.

The PM is said to have spoken to them about the prevailing situation in the country, the joint efforts of the Centre and states to counter the pandemic and the attempt to reduce discordant voices. A source told ET that the prime minister also sought suggestions from the leaders.

The calls from the prime minister came after Sonia Gandhi wrote two letters to Modi last week, expressing her party’s support to the 21-day lockdown call from the PM and promising full support and cooperation in the efforts.

The prime minister is said to have briefed the leaders about the financial packages announced to provide relief to the poor, including the roll-out of PM Garib Kalyan Yojana. Banerjee had announced on Saturday that her party would skip the videoconference called by the PM on April 8. Also, she was the only chief minister to skip the PM’s second videoconference with CMs earlier this week on the grounds that she had not been listed as a Speaker. The West Bengal chief secretary had attended that videoconference.

Akhilesh Yadav has been questioning the lack of testing kits, personal protective equipment and meals for the poor.

Soliciting suggestions on how the lockdown can be lifted in a staggered way was also on the PM’s agenda. The government is trying to come up with a post-April 14 plan – longer period of lockdown for areas experiencing concentration of positive cases and opening up the unaffected areas from April 15, albeit with some restrictions.

Source Article