The Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, who held a four-hour meet with at least 13 chief ministers on video conference on Saturday, has indicated that the lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic would be extended by two weeks after considering the requests of the chief ministers, who preferred a longer containment period. The lockdown was scheduled to end on Tuesday.
Mr. Modi also marked a shift in tackling the pandemic, from saving lives to saving both lives and the economy. Three weeks ago, while announcing the lockdown, he had said, 'Jaan hai toh jahaan hai (the world exists if life exists).' Towards the end of the meeting on Saturday, however, he stressed on 'Jaan bhi jahaan bhi (both life and economy are important)' as the lockdown has put severe stress on businesses.
· 'The PM has taken correct decision to extend lockdown. Today, India's position is better than many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is imp to extend it,' the Delhi Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal tweeted minutes after the meeting.
· Most chief ministers who attended the video conference pointed out that they may not have the massive resources needed to deal with a spurt in COVID-19 cases if the lockdown is removed sooner. They asked the Centre for relief packages.
· 'Extend the lockdown. We're not short on infrastructure to deal with coronavirus, but the question is of implementing policies effectively. PM Modi has always welcomed the suggestions of states,' the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
· 'It is important to extend the nation-wide lockdown... We need a common relief policy for Rabi (winter) crop,' the Rajasthan Chief Minister, Mr. Ashok Gehlot said. West Bengal's Ms. Mamata Banerjee said the lockdown extension should be done in a 'humane and practical' manner, adding the economy of her state has suffered.