Union home minister Amit Shah has reached out to all Chief Ministers, sources said, asking for feedback on the lockdown and their views about its extension or lifting after May 31, when the current phase is scheduled to end. All Chief Ministers have given their views on how they want to move forward. Over the last few days, the Prime Minister’s Office has been busy reviewing the entire lockdown period to decide on the way forward from June 1.
Sources said unlike other times, when the cabinet secretary was the one to make the initial contact, Mr Shah’s move was a political outreach.
The government has been concerned about sharp criticism of its strategy to counter coronavirus from the opposition as well as the state Chief Ministers, which has pushed it to change its stance on several occasions.
Home ministry sources yesterday said ultimately, the way forward regarding the lockdown “would be a political call”.
The government’s options include continuation with the National Disaster Management Act, which empowers the Centre to take all the decisions regarding health, which is a state subject. Or it can allow the states to have a final call on how they wish to proceed.
During the last extension of the lockdown in mid-May, the government had allowed extensive relaxations, leaving it to the state’s judgment on setting the boundaries.
The announcement was preceded by a daylong meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all the Chief Ministers. Even before the other extensions of the lockdown, PM Modi had spoken to the Chief Ministers and taken note of their views.
Earlier today, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba had a two-hour video interaction this morning with municipal commissioners and district magistrates of 13 cities, including the four metros, to discuss the measures being taken for the containment of the virus.