New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held a meeting with floor leaders of opposition and other parties in Parliament to discuss the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government's efforts to contain the fast-spreading virus in the country.
The interaction was held through video conferencing and those participated, included Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, and Nationalist Congress Party head Sharad Pawar.
Sources said, these leaders were briefed by secretaries of various ministries---health, home and rural development ---on the actions taken by the government to tackle COVID-19 and mitigate the hardships arising out of the lockdown. Several opposition leaders raised the issue of shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers in the country while few also suggested that construction of the new parliament building should be avoided, a source said.
The meet comes amidst indications that the Central government may extend the lockdown across the country beyond April 14 after several states have favoured the extension to contain the fast-spreading virus, as the positive cases in the country show no signs of any let up.
As per the Union health ministry's Wednesday morning update, there are 149 deaths and 5,194 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country even as the country entered its third week of nationwide lockdown.
Apart from Azad and Pawar, others who attended the virtual meet included, Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Satish Misra (Bahujan Samaj Party), Chirag Paswan (Lok Janshakti Party), T R Baalu (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), Sukhbir Singh Badal (Shiromani Akali Dal), Rajiv Ranjan Singh (Janata Dal-United), Pinaki Mishra (Biju Janata Dal) and Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena).
Giving up its initial reluctance, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) also attended the interaction. TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay was among the participants.
Modi interacted with leaders of those parties whose combined strength of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha adds up to five.
This is prime minister's first interaction with the floor leaders, including those from the Opposition, after the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 25 though he had held interactions with chief ministers of all states including those ruled by non-NDA parties.
The prime minister has also held interactions with various stakeholders, including doctors, journalists and heads of Indian missions to get a feedback on ways to check the spread of coronavirus.
He also recently spoke to various political party heads including Congress' Sonia Gandhi, TMC's Mamata Banerjee and DMK's MK Stalin and discussed the COVID-19 situation.
He had also talked to former presidents Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee, and former prime ministers HD Deve Gowda and Manmohan Singh....