Sharad Pawar met Uddhav Thackeray to discuss COVID-19 situation

Sharad Pawar-CM Thackeray

Mumbai: After the meeting of opposition parties called by interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday to launch a coordinated attack against the Centre’s handling of the on-going coronavirus crisis and lockdown, the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Saturday held a review meeting on the Covid-19 situation in the state.

The meeting also took place after the vocal Shiv Sena Sanjay Raut met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari earlier in the day, which a Raj Bhavan statement described as a “courtesy call”.

According to insiders, the Maratha warlord and the NCP boss, Pawar has been insisting on the resumption of economic activities in a phased manner and also restarting road transport within the state. He has also been insisting on holding dialogue with industrialists and experts to increase imports, exports and inland shipping.

Maharashtra has emerged as the worst-affected state in the country with around 45,000 Covid-19 cases, and almost 1,600 deaths from the infection, both figures the highest in the country.

The Covid-19 cases in India saw the biggest spike for the second consecutive day Saturday with 6,654 new infections in the last 24 hours, taking the tally to over 1.25 lakh, while the death toll rose to 3,720 after 137 more casualties, the Union Health Ministry said.

The active cases of the coronavirus disease rose to 69,597, while 51,783 people have recovered and a patient has migrated, according to the ministry bulletin. “Thus, around 41.39 per cent of patients have recovered so far,” a Health Ministry official said. The total of 1, 25,101 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus pandemic include foreigners.
Saturday’s meeting was the third meeting on the issue between the two leaders—Pawar and Thackeray– in the last eight days. The state NCP chief and a senior cabinet minister Jayant Patil, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut and chief secretary Ajoy Mehta were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, for the first time after it parted ways with its former ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiv Sena on Friday attended a meeting with leaders of the national Opposition party, called by Sonia Gandhi, through video-conferencing. Sena was represented by party chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, in what is considered to be a significant development for the party. In this meeting, Pawar also participated. The meeting went on for over four hours and ended with parties formalizing an 11-point charter of demands and asserting that “this is neither the time for government at the Centre to indulge in showmanship nor one-upmanship”.

However, Thackeray maintained a balance, as neither slammed the Centre nor did he speak in favour of the Opposition parties. According to a senior Shiv Sena leader, the CM spoke about the state government’s plan to tackle Covid-19 and also took up the migrants’ issue.