PM Modi Dropped Enough Hints on Extending Lockdown, Says TMC Leader After All-party Meet

PM Modi Dropped Enough Hints on Extending Lockdown, Says TMC Leader After All-party Meet

TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during an all-party meeting on Wednesday, dropped enough hints of extending the lockdown as experts and several states are in favour of it in order to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bandopadhyay, the leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the Lok Sabha, spoke to the prime minister during a video-conference Modi held with the floor leaders of different parties in Parliament to discuss the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government's efforts to contain the fast-spreading virus in the country.

"TMC and many other parties asked the prime minister whether the lockdown would be extended, as people are keen to know about it. In his reply, the prime minister said lifting the lockdown at one go is not advisable as several experts and states have suggested extending it. He said he will discuss the issue with the chief ministers before a decision is taken," Bandopadhyay told PTI.

A 21-day lockdown was imposed in the country on March 25 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bandopadhyay urged Modi not to suspend the MPLAD funds scheme as it would impact development works at the grassroots level and demanded a financial aid for West Bengal to tackle the outbreak.

"I have requested the prime minister for financial aid for West Bengal and to sanction the package of Rs 25,000 crore as demanded by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. I have also urged him to release Bengal's share of GST till March 2020. I have requested him not to suspend the MPLAD funds and told him that we are ready to give away our full salary," he said.

The MPLAD funds help public representatives to take development to the grassroots level and it should not be stopped, the TMC leader added.

The Union cabinet approved an ordinance on Monday to reduce the salaries of the Members of Parliament (MPs) by 30 per cent for a year and utilise the amount in the fight against coronavirus.

The cabinet also approved a temporary suspension of the MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) funds scheme during 2020-21 and 2021-22 and said it will be used for managing health services and the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The TMC had earlier said it would not attend Wednesday's meeting with the prime minister, but subsequently, changed its decision.

On the export of hydroxychloroquine, Bandopadhyay said the TMC has conveyed its opinion that the medicine should be shipped to other countries only after it is ensured that India has an adequate supply to serve its own needs.

He said he has urged the prime minister to ensure that there are no layoffs in the public and private sectors and that daily wage earners get a financial package.