Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reached out to BSP supremo Mayawati on phone to discuss on the novel Coronavirus outbreak and related issues. The PM also reached out to key opposition leaders such as Sonia Gandhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, K Chandrashekar Rao, and MK Stalin to discuss the response to the outbreak. Additionally, he also had a conversation with former Presidents Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil and former PMs Dr. Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda regarding the current situation.
The nationwide Coronavirus lockdown kicked in from March 25 and will run through April 14. The aim is to curb the spread of the highly communicable and deadly virus that has so far infected 3,374 people and killed 77.
The telephone chat with Opposition leaders comes three days before PM Modi's scheduled all-party meeting over the COVID-19 outbreak via video conferencing. Union Minister Prahlad Joshi had informed of the meeting due April 8 on Saturday. Since the Coronavirus crisis hit India, Opposition parties had charged that the Modi government is not engaging political parties even though the PM has interacted with notable members of civil society like sportspersons and senior journalists.
This development follows the PM's video conference with the Chief Ministers of all states on April 2. Highlighting that the common goal was to ensure minimum loss of life, PM Modi noted that testing, tracing, isolation, and quarantine should remain the areas of focus in the next few weeks. The PM also flagged the necessity of maintaining the supply of essential medical equipments and called for dedicated hospital facilities for COVID-19 patients. Another important message imparted by PM Modi was that Crisis Management Groups needed to be set up at the district level besides the appointment of District Surveillance Officers.
While acknowledging that the farming sector had been exempted under the lockdown, he emphasised that social distancing should be practised. The PM also opined that it was crucial to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population after the end of the lockdown period. He asked the states to send their suggestions regarding the exit strategy.