A view of the usually busy Connaught Place area in New Delhi during the 'Janata Curfew' on March 22, 2020.
A view of the usually busy Connaught Place area in New Delhi during the 'Janata Curfew' on March 22, 2020.|IANS

Lockdown may get extended as Modi govt 'considering requests' from States


New Delhi, April 7, 2020

Multiple States and experts have requested the Centre to extend the ongoing 21-day lockdown and the Modi government is considering their suggestions, say government sources.

This comes a day after Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao made a strong case for the extension of the ongoing lockdown. Rao had advocated for the extension of the current shutdown, saying, "The Centre and all other State Governments have lost revenue during the lockdown period. The only positive outcome of this is that we are able to protect our people."

KCR also cited reports of the Boston Consulting Group survey, which asked for ruthless measures like extension of the lockdown till June.

The government's group of ministers on Tuesday met at Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's residence where the issue of post-shutdown scenario came up but no decision was taken on when to end it, said sources who attended the meeting.

The biggest question in front of the government is weighing in two options -- loss of livelihood versus loss of life. However, any decision in this regard will come after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with floor leaders of political parties and Chief Ministers where a common exit plan is to be discussed.

Modi is understood to have told Chief Ministers in his last video conference with them that it is a "long drawn battle",something he reiterated on Monday while addressing party cadres on the occasion of the BJP's Foundation Day.

Soon after the CMs conference by Prime Minister, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, from his Twitter account, declared: "The Prime Minister said that the State Government should not lift the lockdown immediately from April 15 but it should happen in phases. Precautions should be taken that there is no crowding."

However, the government hasn't made any assertion so far about whether it is going to extend the current lockdown or not. But government sources have indeed confirmed that the Modi government is considering the requests to extend the shutdown.

The question about how long the extension would be for, if it takes place, is premature, the sources say. Any decision will be taken after the next chief ministers' conference when all the CMs will come back with their own exit plans after forming task forces, as requested by Modi. Also there is a meeting by Modi scheduled with floor leaders of political parties in Parliament which may be used to build a consensus decision rather than an imposed decision.