Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the PM told opposition leaders that he is receiving requests for extending the lockdown, adding that he will talk to CMs and experts before taking a decision in the best interest of the nation.
The opposition parties on Wednesday advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi in favour of extending the lockdown scheduled to end on April 14, arguing that lifting it may not be feasible looking at the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad rold reporters after the all-party meet presided over by the PM via video-conferencing on Wednesday.
“Around 80% of political parties suggested extension of lockdown at Wednesday’s meeting with the Prime Minister,” he said.
Azad said that the PM told opposition leaders that he is receiving requests for extending the lockdown, adding that he will talk to CMs and experts before taking a decision in the best interest of the nation.
Azad also said that the opposition advised the government to set up a task force comprising Union ministers and said that chief ministers should propose a way forward to tide over the COVID-19 crisis.
He said that the Congress party is also in favour of setting up a multi-party working group to help the government during the crisis.
“In the central government task force, some Chief Ministers, Union Ministers should also be included for better coordination. Chief Ministers of those states where coronavirus has more influence can be included, MLAs can also be added to the force,” he said.
Azad said that the opposition also raised the issue of difficulties being faced by health workers who are at the frontline in the fight against the virus. “We talked about giving them safety equipment and insuring them. We also talked about the need to take tough steps to eliminate the virus,” he said.
Azad said opposition leaders advised the Prime Minister to make sector-specific and target-based plans so that special attention can be paid to areas with critical conditions and stressed on the importance of significantly enhancing testing capabilities.
He said that the government should look into the grievances of the workers and suggested that they be given free ration. Speaking about the plight of farmers, he said that they need government’s support as lockdown has coincided with the harvesting season. Azad said the wheat crop is ready for harvesting and MSP and procurement need to be increased.
Azad further said that repayment of loans of farmers should be postponed for six months and credit card limits should be increased. Azad suggested that MNREGA labourers should be employed in harvesting rabi crops, so that they continue to get wages and farmers also get their crops harvested. GST on fertilisers, pesticides and agricultural equipment should also be removed, he demanded.