Kerala Chief Minister Skips PM’s Meet; Mamata Banerjee Attends, But…


New Delhi: 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with various Chief Ministers via video-link on whether and how to exit the coronavirus lockdown, Bengal, and Kerala where the bumps in the show of center-state coordination.

Kerala was the only state not represented by its Chief Minister in the video-conference. Pinarayi Vijayan did not attend the meeting because he was not among Chief Ministers listed to speak at the meeting, said his office.

The Kerala Chief Minister’s office also said he had raised the state’s primary concerns in the previous meeting with the PM. This time, Chief Secretary Tome Jose sat in, though Mr. Vijayan had the option of joining the meeting.

This time, he would be sending his suggestions in writing, said his office. Sources say Home Minister Amit Shah called him last evening to invite him to give his suggestions.

“In today’s meeting, there was no time allotted for the Kerala Chief Minister to speak. The Chief Secretary will be attending the meeting,” an unnamed official was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did attend the meeting despite speculation that she would not. Reports had suggested she would join briefly and then nominate someone, like the Chief Secretary, to represent her.

Ms. Banerjee is reportedly upset because she felt bigger states had not been given the chance to speak. If the objective of the meeting was to decide on the lockdown, the bigger states should be consulted, said sources close to her.

“Though she is not slotted to speak, she has decided to watch and speak when she gets the chance,” said sources.
The nationwide lockdown, extended by PM Modi on April 15, is due to end on May 3.

The Prime Minister has already held two such video interactions with Chief Ministers over the COVID-19 situation in the country.