PM Modi, set to address nation on Covid-19, gets a wishlist from Oppn

While the exact contents of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on coronavirus may not be known, the opposition parties and leaders have been quick in suggesting what they think the prime minister must announce at 8pm on Thursday.

Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram has suggested a “total lockdown” of towns and cities to prevent coronavirus from progressing beyond stage-2 to community transmissions, where it spreads exponentially.

“I will be disappointed if the PM did not announce a total lockdown, at least of all towns and cities, for a period of 2-4 weeks,” Anything less, he says will be “letting down” this country.

The CPI(M) says the prime minister should announce suspending census and the National Population Register (NPR) exercise in the view of the health crisis triggered by covid-19.

“Given the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for taking precautions such as social distancing, the Politburo of the CPI(M) is of the firm opinion that the NPR enumeration slated to begin from April 1 must be abandoned,” a statement from the party’s highest decision making body, the politbureau said.

The CPM added that the suspension of the above activities will allow focused targeting of all government resources to controlling the pandemic.

Several opposition leaders including Congress leader Anand Sharma have demanded adjournment of the Parliament’s budget session.

Trinamool Congress party MPs in Lok Sabha are demanding that the prime minister makes a statement on the government’s plan to prevent the contagion from advancing further in the Parliament. They have also demanded more quarantine centres.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has asked the government to bring back Indians stranded outside the country at various airports at international destinations. The demand was also supported by Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Bhaurao Raut who raised the issue of 58 students including 25 women, who are reported to be stranded in Singapore for three days. Congress MP Dean Kuriakose said government should arrange for chartered flights to bring back people stuck at airports including in Italy and the Philippines.

KT Rama Rao, son of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao also asked the Centre to make arrangements for the return of Indians stranded at airports in Manila, Rome and other places.

National Conference MP and Chairperson Farooq Abdullah, who was released last week after seven-month long detention, has demanded restoration of 4G mobile network in Jammu and Kashmir to ease residents lives hit by restrictions imposed in the wake of covid-19 outbreak in the country and after detection of the first positive case in Kashmir on Wednesday.