Bharatiya Janata Party chief Jagat Prakash Nadda on Saturday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his timely decision to impose the nationwide lockdown to rein in the coronavirus pandemic. Nadda said while saving lives, the government also took care of the economy and turned the tragedy into an opportunity, PTI reported.

The BJP chief was addressing a meeting of the party’s Odisha executive committee. “Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] placed human lives over the economy and implemented a strict lockdown,” he said, according to ANI. “PM Modi said that India is the first country that completed the responsive system by implementing a lockdown...Modi made it clear that the lives of 1.3 billion people must be saved. The lockdown was imposed well in time and also implemented effectively across the country as a weapon against the pandemic.”

Nadda’s comments came days after the Indian economy saw its worst contraction in decades, with Gross Domestic Product shrinking by a record 23.9% in the April to June quarter and reflected the severe impact of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram, have attacked the government over the sharp decline in the GDP.

Nadda also said that the government took several other measures such as the Garib Kalyan Yojana and Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) to address economic problems faced by citizens during the lockdown. “The UN Secretary General [Antonio Guterres] said India has not only addressed health issues but also economic issues,” he added. “The director general of the WHO [World Health Organization] also echoed the same opinion...The tragedy and challenges posed by the coronavirus were effectively turned into an opportunity by the Centre.”

The BJP leader claimed that other political parties became “inactive” after the lockdown was imposed, whereas his party took to the virtual mode and continued to serve the people.

Nadda added that the saffron party has improved the healthcare infrastructure of the country during the health crisis. “When the lockdown was imposed India did not have a single Covid hospital, and over 1,500 such facilities with 2.5 lakh beds have been set up in the last few months,” he said.

The BJP chief also attacked the Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha and accused it of not implementing the Ayushman Bharat scheme because of “petty and narrow politics”. He urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to implement the scheme to help the poor.