Mumbai: While COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra continue to soar, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has warned against the sudden lifting of lockdown. Indicating that the state may be in it for the long haul, the Shiv Sena president wondered whether those seeking the removal of curbs on movement would take responsibility for any loss of life.
Uddhav was speaking to Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut in the first of his two-part marathon interview, which was published in the party mouthpiece Saamna on Saturday. Raut is the executive editor of the newspaper, and Uddhav’s wife Rashmi is its editor.
“…I am gradually opening up things, and I am trying to ensure that once an activity has resumed, it is not shut down again. Hence, just thinking of health or only about the economy will not help. Those who are concerned only with the economy must think of the health sector as well, and those who think about just the impact on public health, though they are right, must consider the economic ramifications. A balance between the two must be struck,” urged Uddhav.
“It is being alleged that this has led to an economic crisis... I would like to tell these critics, we are willing to lift the lockdown, but will you take the responsibility if people lose their lives?” asked Uddhav, adding that he was aware of the crisis in the economy.
“Suppose we lift the curbs suddenly, the pandemic spreads and people lose their lives, then what happens to their livelihood? What will happen if the pandemic enters factories?... I am not (US President Donald) Trump to watch my people suffer before my eyes,” said the Shiv Sena president, noting that any mortalities would mean the families of the deceased would have to suffer.
Uddhav has been called upon to gradually open the state for economic activity. The Shiv Sena’s ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is also said to be eager for these curbs to be done away with.
He charged that leader of opposition and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has been accusing the state government of mismanaging the war against COVID-19, may be jealous as he (Uddhav) was listed as one of the best chief ministers in the country by an organization.
When asked by Raut about when vada pav would be available on the streets of Mumbai, Uddhav said “we are gradually proceeding in that direction.”