Miffed Mamata likely to skip Modi’s virtual meet with CMs

Day 2 of the 6th PM-CM conference over the coronavirus pandemic is all set to be more interesting on Wednesday than the first day, with a miffed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee almost certain to give it a miss.

Sources said she is unhappy at not being allotted a slot to speak in Wednesday’s conference. Instead, the Chief Secretary of the state is likely to represent West Bengal.

Chief Ministers of only six states are scheduled to speak on Wednesday’s conference — Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Telangana.

On Tuesday’s meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted at further opening up of the economy while saying that rising power consumption and toll collection are suggestive of the economy’s revival.

Sources say, the thrust in Wednesday’s meeting will be Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Delhi. The Centre believes, though the patient count has been relatively low in UP and Bihar, it is likely to rise due to lakhs of migrant workers who have returned to their hometowns in the twin states. The Centre will push to significantly increase testing in these two states.

The PM is likely to stress on Maharashtra, which has been the worst affected state, and Delhi to concentrate their energy for contact tracing in the urban clusters. Recent serological survey has indicated that urban slums are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

With Dharavi seeing a spurt of cases and a series of JJ colonies in Delhi being extremely vulnerable due to their population density, the PM is likely to ask Uddhav Thackeray and Arvind Kejriwal to focus on the urban slums.

Modi on Tuesday said that with the efforts of the past few weeks, green shoots in the economy are visible, including rise in power consumption which was earlier falling, production of two wheelers increasing, digital payment in retail reaching pre-lockdown level, increase in toll collection in May and bouncing back of exports.

These, the PM said, are encouraging signals with a clear hint that the opening of the economy is likely to continue, however, with caution.

He also warned the participating states to be extremely vigilant in ensuring that citizens compulsorily wear masks, maintain social distancing and practice regular hygiene.

Making a compelling case for a balance between life and livelihood, he said on Tuesday, “We have to always keep in mind that the more we can stop the corona, the more it will stop growing, the more our economy will open, our offices will open, the markets will open, the means of transport will open, and so will new employment opportunities.”