Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Friday that the Centre must be transparent in its actions to fight the coronavirus, by cooperating with states and making them partners in decision-making, PTI reported. Gandhi made the remark at a press conference he addressed online.

Last week, the Centre decided to extend the nationwide lockdown for the second time until May 17. During this period, limited economic activities will be allowed in designated orange and green zones.

Gandhi asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to devolve power. “We need to decentralise power in dealing with the virus,” Gandhi said. “If we keep this fight only in PMO [Prime Minister’s Office], we will lose. The PM must devolve power. If we centralise, there will be a calamity. PM has to trust chief ministers and chief ministers have to trust district magistrates.”

Gandhi said that red, orange and green zones should be identified at the state level with inputs from district magistrates. “Our chief ministers are saying that the areas which are red zones at the national-level are actually green zones and vice versa,” he added. The Congress leader said it is obvious that supply chain problems are created for businesses due to the distinctions between zones.


The Congress leader also asked Modi to tell the people what criteria will be used to relax the nationwide lockdown after May 17, or to keep it in place. “The government now has to give a little bit of transparency in its actions,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “We need to understand, when they open, what is the criteria for that, what are the boxes they want ticked off before they actually start to open.”

He said that the lockdown is not a key that can be switched, or an “on-off switch”. Gandhi pitched for a “psychological change” among people. “The disease is dangerous for a few categories of people,” he added. “It is dangerous for old people, for those who have diabetes, hypertension etc. But other than that, it is not a dangerous disease. So we have to make a psychological change in the mind of the people. Currently, people are very scared.”

Gandhi said that the government must instill a sense of confidence in people, and it must have a strategy to get out of the lockdown.

On May 6, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had also raised a similar query, asking the Centre to reveal its plan of action after the countrywide lockdown to break the chain of Covid-19 infection ends on May 17. “What criteria is the government of India using to judge how long the lockdown is to continue?” she had asked during a meeting of Congress chief ministers via videoconferencing. “What after May 17?”

Rahul Gandhi has over the past two weeks held discussions with former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan and Nobel laureate Abhijit Mukherjee on the Covid-19 matter.

As of Friday morning, the total number of cases in the country has risen to 56,342 and 1,886 patients have died, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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