New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday held an online meeting with several state unit chiefs to firm up the party’s stand on the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. She is known to have directed state units, particularly those where Congress is in power, to ensure that common people and migrants do not bear the burnt incase of extension of lockdown.

Gandhi held the nearly three-hour long meeting via video conferencing. Atleast two state unit chiefs who attended the meeting on Friday said, while requesting anonymity, that Sonia indicated Congress will stand with whatever decision union government takes on extension of deadline of the lockdown.

“The meeting was quiet a detailed one where everyone spoke about situation in their respective states. Sonia Gandhi said the focus should be on ensuring that resources should reach those who do not have anything. While she did not say anything specific on lockdown, she indicated that whatever needs to be done for containment should be done but interests of poor should be kept in mind,” said a state unit chief who attended the virtual meeting on Friday.

The development comes in the backdrop of Congress-ruled Punjab, second after Odisha, announcing that lockdown in the state will get extended till 1 May. Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh wrote on Twitter saying that assessing the “seriousness” of the issue arising out of Covid-19’s spread, the state cabinet had taken the decision. The three-week national lockdown, imposed by the union government to contain spread of coronavirus, is scheduled to end on 14 April.

Another state unit chief who attended the meeting on Friday said that Gandhi was keen on knowing the steps which were being taken by state units to assist those affected on the ground, particularly those in party ruled states like Rajasthan, Punjab and Chhattisgarh.

“The lockdown as such was not discussed as a seperate topic but most state units chiefs said the party should support union government’s stance which is most likely in favour of extending the lockdown. The general opinion was that we would support extension of lockdown specially since party ruled Punjab has already announced,” the second state unit chief quote above added.

Making her intial remarks in the meeting, Gandhi expressed hope that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led union government will come up with a plan to deal with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You are aware that I and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi have given our suggestions in letters to the Prime Minister. We are hopeful that the union government will have a plan in place to take on this challenge. The poor, farmers and labourers have been in most pain,” Sonia Gandhi said in her initial remarks released by the Congress party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to take a meeting with chief ministers of all states on Saturday to assess the current situation and firm up Centre’s stance on whether to extend the lockdown or not.



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