- "This is not the time for politics, disagreements," Arvind Kejriwal said
- "The centre has decided and this is not the time to differ," he added
- Decision to reserve hospital beds for Delhi residents had sparked a row
Arvind Kejriwal today said the Lieutenant Governor's orders overruling his government's decisions on coronavirus would be strictly followed, without question. "This is not the time for politics. This is not the time for disagreements," the Delhi Chief Minister asserted in his first online statement since he went into self-isolation suspecting a COVID-19 infection.
On Monday, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who represents the centre, cancelled the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government's decision to reserve hospitals except those run by the centre for residents of Delhi. He also reversed a decision to test only those showing symptoms of COVID-19 and said asymptomatic cases and high-risk contacts of a virus patient will also be tested.
"We won 62 seats (in the 70-member assembly) in the Delhi election. The centre has decided to override us and this is not the time to differ. Whatever the centre has decided and the Lt Governor has ordered, that will be implemented. There will be no dispute or debate on this," Mr Kejriwal said, addressing the media a day after he tested negative for coronavirus.
"If political parties keep fighting, corona will win. The entire country has to be united in its fight. You cannot even imagine the crisis we are in."
Mr Kejriwal said it would be a huge challenge to provide hospital beds for COVID-19 treatment, given his government's worrying estimate of how virus cases will rise by July and the corresponding demand for beds.
From the doubling rate of infection, the Delhi government assesses that by June 15 there will be 44,000 cases, by June 30 there will be one lakh cases, 2.25 lakh cases by July 15 and 5.5 lakh by July 31.
"It is a huge and unprecedented challenge. By July 15 Delhi will need 33,000 beds, and if we include those seeking treatment from outside the city, we will need 65,000. By July 31, we will need a total of 1.5 lakh beds," said Mr Kejriwal.
"I will get started on this and go to stadiums, banquet halls and hotels to make arrangements. We will try everything, do whatever we can to ensure enough hospital beds in Delhi," the Chief Minister pledged.
While cancelling Mr Kejriwal's decision to reserve hospitals run by the Delhi government and some private hospitals for residents of the capital, the Lieutenant Governor had ordered that everyone should be treated in Delhi without "discrimination" on grounds of being a non-resident.