PM's Video Meet With Chief Ministers On Lockdown, Pinarayi Vijayan Skips: 10 Points

Coronavirus India: The Chief Ministers of Bihar, Odisha, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Puducherry are likely to speak today.

Coronavirus lockdown: PM Modi is holding a video-conference with Chief Ministers.

New Delhi: At least nine Chief Ministers are expected to speak at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's video-conference with Chief Ministers that began this morning, the third since the countrywide coronavirus lockdown started on March 25. The meeting's agenda is to review the extension of the lockdown and a clear exit plan. The Chief Ministers of Bihar, Odisha, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Puducherry are likely to speak today. From the northeast, the Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Mizoram will speak. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan skipped the meeting and sent the Chief Secretary to represent the state. Mr Vijayan said the focus of today's meet is on the northeast and that it is not mandatory for all states to attend. Among others present at the virtual meet are Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, and top officials from the Prime Minister's Office and the Union Health Ministry.

Here are the top 10 updates on PM Modi's meeting with the Chief Ministers:

  1. Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, is likely to favour a staggered exit from the lockdown. He may also say he is open to migrants and students returning to Bihar - a u-turn from his strong objections to what he called "injustice to lockdown". But sources say he may then ask the centre to issue new notification facilitating interstate movement of vehicles and people.

  2. Assam and other northeastern states are likely to support a phased withdrawal from the lockdown too.The region is least affected by COVID-19 infections and is keen to open for business.

  3. The states are likely to support restricted movement within the state. They may also suggest keeping the borders closed and also blocking inter-state movement. The Chief Ministers are also likely to discuss the responses to the partial relaxations granted on April 20 to certain sectors, the situation regarding test kits and the protection of doctors.

  4. The states are expected to demand a financial package from the centre. They could also discuss an amendment to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act to cap fiscal deficit, which is likely to increase as vast sums of money will be needed for relief and stimulus for the global pandemic.

  5. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had spoken to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday, asking him to send suggestions today on several aspects of the lockdown and on easing the restrictions.

  6. Almost all the large states have put forward their views in the earlier meetings. Sources said the centre wishes to give all states - large or small - a chance to speak. But unlike last time, when extension of the lockdown was discussed, they have not been required to provide their demands in writing.

  7. In the first meeting on March 20, eight states had put forward their views on containment of the virus, upgrade of medical infrastructure and training local health resources.

  8. In the second meet on April 2, around eight states had discussed an exit strategy once the lockdown ends.

  9. In the third meeting on April 11, at least 13 Chief Ministers had asked for an extension of the lockdown.

  10. Bihar and Odisha are among the states which have a low rate of transmission. Meghalaya has 11 active cases of coronavirus, Mizoram has one.