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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

7 chief ministers who made war with COVID-19 look easy

Early work by chief ministers of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Punjab, Jharkhand and Puducherry seem to stand out as far as fight against virus is concerned

NEW DELHI : In this hour of crisis when India is battling one of its worst nightmares - COVID-19, there are a few chief ministers whose work seem to stand out as far as fighting the virus is concerned.

Uddhav Thackeray:

Well before the pan-India shutdown, like many state chiefs, Maharashtra's Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on March 20 announced that from Friday midnight all workplaces will remain closed till March 31. His order was also applicable to Mumbai, MMR Region, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Nagpur.

Well before that, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had announced that all shops located in several localities of Mumbai will remain shut on alternate days indefinitely.

He had said, "There has been a drastic difference in the crowd in public places, however, we still need to do this for 15 days. We don't have any option but to have a social distancing. You may not like it, but we have no option for it."

After a nationwide lockdown announcement, he soothed the nerves by assuring Maharashtra has enough supply of essentials. "I appeal to employers not to cut wages of their workers or stop their services....don't flock the markets. To purchase essential commodities, go to market alone and maintain distance (with one another). We will win this war and celebrate Gudi Padwa as usual," he said.

Ashok Gehlot:

Just as Thackeray, Gehlot announced a lockdown in Rajasthan till March 31, soon enough. He also demanded a Central relief package for the state's tourism and hospitality industry, MSMEs and all the weaker sections of the society.

He in fact wrote a letter to Prime Minister Naredra Modi asking for such a relief package.

Way before that he tried to build a political consensus. The Rajasthan Chief Minister called for an all-party meeting to discuss the situation related to the novel coronavirus in the state. He also called a meeting of religious leaders.

Pinarayi Vijayan:

Kerala was the first state that reported a coronavirus infection in India and a state with one of the highest infection rates from corona. That said, the approach of the state government has been coordinated and clinical.

Apart from building isolation facilities, what drew a lot of attention was the economic package announced much before that of the Centre. Though sceptics question its viability, but Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan attempted to kickstart the badly hit economy with a 20,000-crore package. It came ahead of Modi's announcement of economic task force.

A total of 72,460 persons are under observation in Kerala, the CM said on Wednesday, out of them only 466 in hospitals. Kerala was among the states that declared a statewide lockdown ahead of the nationwide shutdown.

He regularly spoke to people via media or Twitter to skirt any panic.

Bhupesh Baghel:

To prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, several important decisions were being taken by the Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel. Even before the announcement of lockdown in the entire country, the government had issued instructions for the lockdown in the state. Instructions were given to seal the boundaries only after the first positive case came in the state.

Along with this, a banner with photo of the CM has been installed in the entire state, including the capital Raipur, which is becoming viral on social media. The banner says, 'Return home'.

Famous filmmaker Sudhir Mishra has tweeted a picture with this banner. On the afternoon of March 25, Sudhir Mishra tweeted : "Good work is being done by Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel for awareness about Corona virus. So far, only 1 positive case has been received in the state."

Hemant Soren:

At a time when everyone is battling with rising cases, Jhharkhand health department flaunted zero in his state on Wednesday.

According to health officials, samples of 77 coronavirus suspect cases have been tested, out of which 61 samples have turned negative.

Samples collected from different districts were sent for testing in Jamshedpur. The health ministry is keeping an eye on about 450 people who have returned to Jharkhand from Italy, China and other countries.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren had expressed satisfaction on Thursday that so far no coronavirus case has been found in the state. Soren also made appeals to the citizens to abide by the lockdown order, and not to move outside unnecessarily.

Amarinder Singh:

As 90,000 NRIs returned, Punjab had an uphill task, preparing for an alarming rise in cases. Hence, gauging the situation, Punjab became one of the first states to clamp curfew to prevent the spread of the virus. The timely decision was taken by the Punjab chief minister after reviewing the situation with the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP).

It was a practical decision in two senses -- it curbed the massive spread to other states and contained the unruly citizens of the state, many of whom gave sleepless nights to the administration, violating social distancing calls.

But amid this, CM Singh didn't forget the humanitarian crisis that loomed. "I have directed the provision of free food, shelter and medicines for those in need and 20 crore has been sanctioned out of CM relief fund for same. Additionally, DCs and SDMs have been asked to extend all assistance to those in need," Amarinder Singh tweeted.

V. Narayanswamy:

When the crisis is serious, the law enforcement machinery needs to be tougher -- V. Narayanswamy's government in Puducherry seems to be guided by this principle.

This Tuesday, police resorted to lathi charge when vendors who were refusing to go home and hence attracting more buyers on the streets. With Ugadi festival around, that massive public jostling was a deadly health hazard in terms of the coronavirus outbreak.

Well before that, the Puducherry Chief Minister announced last Wednesday, closure of all bars in the union territory as part of steps to prevent spread of coronavirus.

Last week itself, Narayanasamy sent his Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao to visit the Mahe region, an enclave of Puducherry in Kerala, to review steps taken there to prevent the spread of the infection.

As India is into the second day of the nationwide lockdown, early work by these seven Chief Ministers made it easy for all Indians.

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