DELHI: On Monday, the fifth meeting of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the state chief ministers was held at 3pm. The main aim of the meeting was to discuss the post-lockdown strategy.

The PM said that our focus should be to reduce the spread of Coronavirus and ensure that all precautions & safety measures are followed by the people including social distancing norms, by observing ‘do gaaj doori’.

Briefing about the meeting, Prime minister office stated that on the issue of fourth lockdown and how restricted it will be, PM Modi said,”I am of the firm view that the measures needed in the first phase of lockdown were not needed during the 2nd phase and similarly the measures needed in the 3rd Phase are not needed in the fourth”.

Modi also asked all the state ministers to ensure that rural India remains free from this crisis, He said ” now the effort should be to stop the spread of the COVID19 to rural areas.”

The meeting via video conference was attended by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan along with the Chief Ministers of the states. 

In today’s meeting all the CMs were allowed to share their views and put their queries unlike previous meetings where only shortlisted CMs were given an opportunity to share their opinion.

The CM of Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Baghel, in the video conference with PM Modi, said that state governments should get the right to take decisions on handling economic activities in the state. He further said that they should also get the responsibility to declare red, green & orange zones. 

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh pitched for extension of the lockdown backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of the states to save lives and secure livelihood. 

“States need to be given greater flexibility in micro-planning as part of a carefully planned exit strategy, encompassing both Covid-19 containment and a defined path of economic revival,” Singh said.

K Palaniswami, the CM of Tamil Nadu requested PM Modi not to resume passenger train services as well as regular air services in the state till May 31 as the cases in the state crossed the 7,000 mark with a continuous rising trend.

K Chandrashekar Rao of Telangana too urged the Centre not to resume the passenger train services in the state.

However, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee blamed the Centre for “playing politics” amid the crisis and opposed the resumption of passenger train services.

“We have been cooperating with the Centre but why are you playing politics.This is not the time for politics. We are doing our best but why is the Centre attacking West Bengal,” Mamata Banerjee said in the meeting.

She further asked the Centre to talk to states before ending the lockdown and allowing resumption of other services.

Earlier, this month the Union Home Ministry sent two Inter-Ministerial Central teams to Bengal to check on its Covid-19 efforts. After that Amit Shah had also accused the State govt of not allowing ‘Shramik trains’ run by the Railways to reach the state.This has raised a dispute between the Centre & the state.

The nationwide lockdown started in the country on March 25 to contain the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 2200 people, and afflicted more than 67,000 in the country. However, even after the interaction with the Chief Ministers today the Central government is still undecided on lifting the lockdown completely as many states have opposed the relaxations on trains & air services with the rising number of cases in the country.