NEW DELHI, April 8 - In what can be seen as a movement towards extension of the ongoing nationwide lockdown over COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told the floor leaders of various parties in the Parliament that the kind of response and suggestions he has received does not indicate that the lockdown should be lifted, said sources.
The Prime Minister is also slated to meet the chief ministers of all the states and Union Territories on April 11, through video conference, where a final decision on the issue is slated to be made. This will be the third such conference with the chief ministers.
In the last such meeting, the Prime Minister talked about a common exit plan and asked all CMs to form a task force that will give suggestions. On April 11, all chief ministers will be back with the suggestions their task forces have given them.
There is a strong buzz that the Prime Minister may address the nation, once again, on April 11 or 12, after a consensus on the future of lockdown is reached during the meet with chief ministers.
Meanwhile, more chief ministers have been cautioning Modi against an abrupt lifting of the shutdown. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao earlier made a strong case for the extension of the ongoing lockdown. A day after, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had called for phased withdrawal, if necessary.
When Modi told mostly opposition floor leaders on Wednesday that the suggestions he received were against lifting the shutdown, he was citing suggestions from KCR and Gehlot � both of whom are from non-NDA parties.
�The situation in the country is akin to a social emergency� and it has necessitated tough decisions, Modi told political leaders on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister asserted that his government�s priority is to �save each and every life�. He said, �We must continue to remain vigilant.�
States, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the ongoing lockdown beyond April 14 to contain the spread of the virus, Modi said. The country is facing �serious economic challenges as a result of COVID-19, and the government is committed to overcoming them,� he said.
The leaders who attended the virtual meet talked about boosting the health and morale of the healthcare workers, ramping up testing facilities, the need to assist smaller states and UTs, and tackling the challenges of hunger and malnutrition.
They also spoke about economic and other policy measures to boost the country�s capability in the battle against the pandemic. Suggestions were also given by the leaders on extending the lockdown, and on a �phased exit� after the lockdown ended.
The leaders thanked the Prime Minister for the meeting, appreciated the timely measures taken by him and said that the �entire country is standing united behind him during the crisis�, an official statement said.
Modi praised the sense of belonging, discipline, dedication and commitment with which people are contributing in the endeavour, �be it in following social distancing, janata curfew or the lockdown�. � Agencies