Hours after the Congress criticized the Centre for implementing the coronavirus lockdown in an “unplanned” way, Union Home Minister Amit Shah hit back.

“Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, India’s efforts to fight Coronavirus are being lauded domestically and globally,” Shah wrote on Twitter. “130-crore Indians are united to defeat COVID-19.” Shah said the Congress must put the interest of the nation first. “The Congress is playing petty politics,” he added. “High time they think of national interest and stop misleading people.”

Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda also criticised the Congress and said it must act more responsible at the time when the country is going through a crisis. “The Prime Minister is fighting this battle together with the state governments,” he wrote on Twitter. “In difficult times, the Congress should function as a responsible political party.”

At a meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Thursday, party President Sonia Gandhi said that the ongoing 21-day lockdown was necessary to contain the coronavirus but the government had implemented it in an unplanned way because of which millions of migrants were suffering. The Congress president said the pandemic had led to an unprecedented health and humanitarian crisis and pointed out problems faced by farmers, medium and small businesses, and those working in the unorganised sector.

Warning of “economic devastation” in the country, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the party needed to act like a watchdog. Senior party leader P Chidambaram said the government had not understood the enormity of the crisis and that Congress needs to point out shortcoming in measures to deal with the pandemic.

As the total number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 1,965 on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video conference with the chief ministers of all the states to discuss measures to fight the pandemic and said that they must have a “common exit strategy” for staggered movement of people after the three-week nationwide lockdown is lifted on April 14.