Coronavirus outbreak: Narendra Modi's 8 pm address added to the chaos

Updated: 27 March, 2020 07:53 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

NCP minister Jayant Patil flays PM Narendra Modi's timing and says panic could have been avoided if some planning had gone in before the announcement

Jayant Patil
Jayant Patil

Nationalist Congress Party's state president and water resources minister Jayant Patil says he gets goose bumps whenever Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation. No wonder, then, that he blamed the PM's 8 pm 'lockdown' announcement for adding to the chaos that the country had already landed in because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patil was at his home in Mumbai glued to the TV on Tuesday night. "The PM didn't mention clearly about the availability of essentials in his address, forcing people to act as if there was no tomorrow. People flocked to grocery shops and supermarkets thinking the PM has announced an extreme measure because there was something serious that they didn't know of," Patil told mid-day.

Patil also recalled his own experience of going out to fetch groceries that night. "My wife called our cook in Mumbai from Islampur to ask about the grocery stock at home. The cook told her we didn't have enough for the next 21 days. So, I told my son to accompany me to the shops in Malabar Hill. We drove out and somehow managed something from two-three shops. If an announcement made at odd hours could do this to me, imagine what it did to the people who didn't have any means of transport and shops around them, and most importantly shortage of money. He cannot make announcements every time he feels like it," he said.

Patil said he wasn't politicising the issue, but expected the PM to take a final call only after making proper arrangements. "Maharashtra had already made all possible arrangements and even declared a lockdown two days before the PM. But sudden action on the part of the PM, who, I think should also have thought of the common man, did considerable damage to the situation and impacted public behaviour," the minister said.

Patil said the announcement should have come in the morning. "In that case, people could have behaved appropriately. The administration and police could have planned to control the streets," he said.

According to Patil, a woman from his constituency went to Bangalore to meet her son, but couldn't return because the trains and airlines have stopped working. "Another man told me his taxi driver fled in Nashik leaving him stranded on the streets. There are many such stories that are emerging now," he said.

Patil, who also controls a dairy co-operative in western Maharashtra, said the 'PM's unilateral' announcement discouraged the drivers of milk tankers from driving that night.

Patil said it was good that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his MVA colleagues were ready to repair the damage. "We all are working 24x7, planning and executing measures that should make life easy for everyone," he added.

Islampur is doing fine

Patil said Islampur, his hometown in Sangli, was doing fine in terms of arresting the COVID-19 infection after nine people from the same family tested positive. "I'm in touch with the administration and police. I have also spoken to those in quarantine. All are cooperating. The high-risk contacts of the people who returned from Haj were found and tested. Some results are awaited. The family home and its neighbourhood have been disinfected and isolated," he said. Incidentally, a couple who was discharged from a Pune hospital on Wednesday after successful COVID-19 treatment, is from Patil's constituency. "They are doing fine at home. The neighbourhood has accepted them happily."

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First Published: 27 March, 2020 07:46 IST

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