Asserting that this was not the time to indulge in petty politics, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday appealed to the Opposition parties not to trigger panic among people by spreading misinformation about the Covid pandemic in the state, but to work unitedly with his government to overcome this unprecedented crisis.In a televised address to the people of Punjab, the Chief Minister said there were no mismanagement of the crisis or widespread infections in the state, as was being projected by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Most of the cases now were those that were coming from other states, he said, disclosing that of the new cases reported, only 7 related to local infection while 93 were Punjabis who had come from outside the state.The Chief Minister called upon the people not to be worried about the sudden spike in numbers that could be expected over the next few days as more people return to their homes from other states, with the Government of India’s decision to allow the movement of stranded persons.Urging the opposition to join hands, and work shoulder to shoulder with his government, in the interest of Punjab and its people, the Chief Minister said “we have a war at our hands, and it is time not to score brownie points but to show unity.” Citing the example of the appointment of Labour leader Clement Attlee as deputy PM by then Conservative UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, when faced with war against Germany, Captain Amarinder said wars can only be fought and won unitedly. Pointing out that Punjab is going through a difficult time, Captain Amarinder underlined the need for all to work together to save the state and its people. “It is a war of Punjab and for its people,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the opposition’s criticism of his government’s handling of the Covid situation, the Chief Minister said nobody wants to hear negative things at this critical time. People are already going through very negative times, and want to hear positive things and good news, he added.Warning of possible escalation in the number of Covid cases as more and more stranded Punjabis return from other states, in the wake of easing of norms by the Centre, the Chief Minister appealed to the people not to be afraid of quarantine, which was just a means to ensure that the returnees do not spread the infection among their families, neighbours or others. Quarantine is nothing but a way to keep those coming back to Punjab in isolation while they are tested and given a clean chit by the doctors, said Captain Amarinder, making it clear that every person returning to the state would be kept in institutional quarantine as a preventive measure.Amid reports of certain people sneaking through the borders to get back home, the Chief Minister appealed to all not to resort to such dangerous measures but to come in through proper channels, with due screening, testing and quarantining. This, he said, was imperative to keep the situation in Punjab under control, as had been done so far, largely on account of the decision to go for curfew early. “Nobody will be allowed to go to their home without the mandatory quarantine and doctor’s clearance,” he declared.
While every Punjabi was welcome to come back home, and those from other states would be facilitated in their return, this needed to be done properly, to ensure that there is no further spread of the coronavirus, said the Chief Minister. On the return of people of other states stranded in Punjab, he said the concerned states would have to make arrangements or the Government of India would have to arrange special trains, given the large numbers involved.The Chief Minister also appealed to the people to take all due precautions, including wearing of masks, hand hygiene and social distancing, when they step out during the period of relaxation, which he had announced two days ago. These relaxations, aimed at providing some relief to the people, would start falling in place over the next couple of days as the respective DCs finalise their area-wise plans for opening of select shops, by rotation, he assured the people, calling upon them to follow all advice/guidelines given by doctors and expert to prevent the spread of the infection.Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Chief Minister hoisted the national flag, in line with the Punjab Congress party’s decision to observe May Day in solidarity with the Corona Warriors, and also as a mark of protest against the Centre’s discrimination against the state in the matter of extending support to it in the battle against Covid.“May Day is an occasion to celebrate the toil & sacrifice of our entire working-class population. We owe the progress made by our Nation to all the industrial workers. And in the midst of #Covid19, we are thankful to our Corona Warriors as well. I salute you all! #Labour Day,” he tweeted.