To bolster the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday held a video conference with the MLAs and MPs of the state and sought their suggestions.
At the video conference, that lasted for nearly 12 hours, Gehlot held discussions with the MLAs and MPs from Udaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Kota divisions over issues related to the pandemic. Barring the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, lawmakers of all parties and Independents from five divisions attended the video conference.
The legislators, including leader of opposition Gulab Chand Kataria and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, appreciated the initiative and gave their suggestions for containing the spread of the virus, addressing the issues of migrants, providing them job opportunities and for the revival of economic activities. The chief minister said the suggestions given by the MLAs and MPs will be considered by the state government.
In his opening remark, Gehlot said the government has managed the situation well and informed the leaders about the works being done to handle COVID-19 crisis. Rajasthan's mortality rate, recovery rate and doubling rate of COVID-19 patients are far better than the national average, he said.
Assembly Speaker C P Joshi stressed that citizens and the government need to change their way of functioning in view of the pandemic. Political parties should try to allay people's fears over the spread of the infection, he said. Kataria raised the issue of migrant labours and claimed that the people with valid movement passes were being made to wait for hours before entering the state.
"A number of labourers are still travelling on foot to reach their native places and there are no proper arrangements for food and water," he said, adding the Congress government needs to focus on tribal areas where hunger is likely to become a major issue in coming days.
BJP MLA Kiran Maheshwari requested the chief minister to allow the opposition party MLAs carry out inspection of quarantine centres so that improved feedback could be provided to the government. Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) MLA Rajkumar Roat suggested Gehlot to make a programme for the revival of old wells in tribal areas through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which would help tribal people in irrigation and other purposes.
Vasundhara Raje suggested that the state government should further focus on quarantine facilities and shelters on border areas in view of the movement of migrants. She said it was important that only hotspots be marked as red zones and not the entire district, and urged the chief minister to push for this during the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
The chief minister said that the lawmakers gave their support in the fight against coronavirus. Several of the MLAs and ministers also raised the issue of two per cent tax imposed by the state government on sale and purchase of agriculture commodities recently and demanded that the decision be reviewed.
Along with Congress and BJP MLAs, CPI (M), BTP, RLD and Independent MLAs attended the video conference. Barring Union Ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, MPs from these divisions were also present. Gehlot is scheduled to interact with the MLAs and MPs from Jaipur and Ajmer divisions on Monday.
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