The top leadership of Congress, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, held a meeting with the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states. The chief ministers raised several concerns over the fight against coronavirus and said they were not consulted by the Centre on several issues.
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy said the state governments were not consulted by the Centre while classifying the districts into Red, Orange and Green Zones.
Amarinder Singh said, “It is matter of concern that people sitting in Delhi are deciding on the classification of coronavirus zones without knowing what’s happening on the ground.”
Narayanasamy echoed Singh and said, “The Govt of India is deciding on zones without consulting the states and this is creating an anomalous situation. People sitting in Delhi cannot tell the states. No state or chief minister are being consulted. Why?”
Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh asked how the Centre was planning to come out of the extended lockdown that has wreaked havoc on the economy.
The concerns were voiced in a video conference meeting of Congress consultative group on coronavirus which took place on Wednesday. The meeting was chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
“After May 17, what? And after May 17, how?” asked Sonia Gandhi during the meeting. Sonia also sought a clarification from the Centre on the criteria that the Modi government is using to judge how long the lockdown will continue.
The Congress chief minister also criticised the Centre for denying economic package to the states in the time of need.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, “Until an extensive stimulus package is given, how the states and the country will run? We have lost Rs 10,000 crore in revenue. States have repeatedly requested PM Modi for a package but we are yet to hear from the Centre.”
On a similar note, Puducherry CM said, “PM isn’t saying a word on economic package for the states.”
Capt Amarinder added, “We have set up two committees, one to strategise on how to come out of lockdown and another on economic revival.”
Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram seconded the demand from chief ministers and said “States are bleeding in terms of finances but no money is being allocated by the Centre. We have been pleading for cash transfers from the government to the bottom half of the people. Instead, the governments are doing a reverse transfer of money from the people to the government. This is cruel.”
The state chief ministers demanded economic relief from the Centre to survive the lockdown.