Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia wrote to Amit Shah Saturday to ask him to overrule Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s decision to reject two measures proposed by the Arvind Kejriwal government as part of the third phase of easing the COVID-19 lockdown.
In his letter Mr Sisodia said the Delhi government was preparing to re-send these decisions – the re-opening of hotels and weekly markets (the latter on a week’s trial) – to the Lieutenant Governor’s office on Tuesday and asked Mr Shah to ensure that they were passed this time.
“Coronavirus cases are steadily decreasing in Delhi and the situation is under control. Cases, however, are increasing in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, but over there hotels and weekly markets are allowed to function,” Manish Sisodia pointed out.
“It is inconceivable why a state that did a better job of bringing the coronavirus outbreak under control is being forced to shut down its economy,” he said, noting that wage earners from five lakh families had been sitting idle for the past four months due to the lockdown.
“I request that you change this decision and instruct the Lieutenant Governor to immediately approve the Chief Minister’s proposal,” Mr Sisodia wrote.
On Friday Mr Baijal, who represents the centre and chairs the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, ruled that hotels and weekly markets could not be re-opened. Sources in his office told news agency PTI the decision had been taken because the COVID-19 situation in the national capital was still “fragile” and the threat is “far from over”.
The ruling AAP (Aam Aadmi Party), which has frequently clashed with the centre and Mr Baijal over the Covid crisis, demanded non-interference in its decisions. The party pointed out that active infections were on the decline and that it was time to focus on the economy.
“The centre derives sadistic pleasure by inflicting pain and misery on Delhi and undermining the democratically elected government,” party spokesperson Raghav Chadha said.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Baijal has scrapped a number of orders pitched by the Delhi government.
Last month, he cancelled a controversial decision to reserve hospitals (except those run by the centre) for residents of Delhi. He also reversed a decision to test only those people with symptoms, saying asymptomatic cases and high-risk contacts would also be tested.
This is not the first time during this pandemic that the Delhi government has appealed to Amit Shah. In June Mr Sisodia wrote another letter, asking him to roll back a central order requiring all Covid patients in the city to visit a quarantine centre for evaluation.
Mr Sisodia pointed out that medical infrastructure in Delhi, which was reporting between 3,000 and 4,000 new cases per day, was already strained. “In such a scenario, how will we arrange ambulances to take all the patients to isolation centres?” he asked in that letter.
That central order came a week after yet another flashpoint between Mr Baijal and the Delhi government – over mandatory five-day quarantine for all patients. That directive, issued by Mr Baijal himself, was withdrawn after massive protests by the ruling AAP.
Delhi has more than 1.35 lakh COVID-19 cases so far, including nearly 4,000 deaths linked to the virus. However, it has only 10,500 active cases and a recovery rate that is significantly better than the national average (around 84 per cent compared to 64 per cent).
Today the Union Minister of State (Home) G Kishan Reddy praised the “Delhi model” of controlling the coronavirus and urged all states to follow suit.
With input from PTI