Posted on May 12, 2020, 1:37 PM IST
As soon as it was announced on twitter that PM Modi will be addressing the nation today at 8 pm speculations and rumours about lockdown 4.0 has gained ground. Yesterday PM Modi had chaired the fifth virtual meet with the state CMs to discuss an exit strategy. So what will be the next move of the government? Will it be center dominated or a completely different ball game with the state governments calling the shots post May 17th ?
At the end of the fifth virtual meet, PM Modi asked the chief ministers to submit reports on what next with an assessment of the situation. But today’s meet has clearly provided room for the Centre to relinquish command and control over India post-May 17.
Prime Minister Modi, towards the end said, "India now has a reasonably clear indication as to the geographical spread of the pandemic in India, including the worst-affected areas. Moreover, over the past few weeks, officials have understood operating procedures in a time such as this, right up to the district level."
He also flagged the next big challenge to the states that want more autonomy. He said, "Our biggest challenge will be to ensure Covid-19 doesn't spread to villages in spite of relaxations. The states which have been lax in enforcing the lockdown have created more challenges."
Punjab CM recommended lockdown extension with carefully crafted strategy, backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of the states, to save lives and secure livelihood. He wanted the Centre to let the states decide the zoning of districts within the state. He was backed openly by the Chhattisgarh CM Baghel.
Maharashtra CM, who has the maximum corona virus positive cases reported by an Indian state, also backed an extension. He said, "Cases are expected to peak in May, it may peak in June or July also. I've read Wuhan is witnessing the second wave of cases, even WHO has warned about this. So, I suggest that any action on lockdown must be taken cautiously.” He wanted the Centre to announce specific, concrete direction on lockdown which the states can implement.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan echoed the same thought. He said, "States face different challenges and therefore should be given the freedom to make reasonable changes to the guidelines relating to the lockdown." Andhra Pradesh CM Jaganmohan Reddy, on the other hand, wanted a relaxation of lockdown measures, with strict adherence to personal hygiene protocols.
PM Modi, at the meet, indicated the center's dilemma. He said, "During the lockdown, people should have stayed where they were. But in distress people want to return home. And for that strategy had to be changed."
The same goes for other measures like the opening of trains. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, in the meet, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to resume the passenger train services. On the other hand, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray asked PM Modi to allow operation of local train services in Mumbai for essential services staff. Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami urged the prime minister not to allow regular air and train services till May 31.
With contradicting views and suggestions will the center allow States to dictate their own terms when it comes to maintaining social distancing during Lockdown 4.0, that has to be seen.