Can’t lift lockdown just to address economic concerns: Thackeray

He asked those who opposed lockdown if they will take responsibility for deaths if the lockdown is lifted

Uddhav Thackeray said there was a need to strike a balance between the issues related to health and economy. Photo: PTI (File)

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday (July 25) said that he was not in favour of complete lifting of lockdown in the state only to address the economic concerns.

He said there was a need to strike a balance between the issues related to health and economy considering the challenge posed by the pandemic, in an interview published in Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana.

“I will never say that the lockdown will be lifted completely. But I have started reopening a few things gradually. Once reopened, it shouldn’t be shut again. Hence, I prefer taking steps in phases. You cant just think about economy or health. There needs to be a balance between the two,” he said.

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The ongoing lockdown in the state will continue till July 31. From June onwards, the government had started lifting the restrictions in a phased manner under its ‘Mission Begin
Again’ initiative.

“Many people are opposing lockdown. They say that lockdown is affecting the economy. To such people, I would say that I am ready to lift the lockdown, but if people die due to it, would you take the responsibility?…Even we are concerned about the economy,” he said.

On the restarting of the suburban railway network in Mumbai, he said, “What if families fall ill and their houses are sealed? Therefore, everything would be done step-by-step.”

Speaking about his government which has completed six months in office, Thackeray said that he was leading a three-party alliance government supported by some independents. “This is not just Thackeray sarkar, but everybody’s sarkar, especially that of the citizens of the state, who have accepted this experiment,” he added.

After the assembly polls last year, the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress came together to form the government in the state.

Talking about the coronavirus situation in Mumbai, he said, “There was never a need to call the Army in Mumbai. I am proud of the administration which rose to the challenge and set up jumbo field hospitals for treatment of coronavirus patients in the city.”

When asked about Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis’s recent visit to Delhi, Thackeray said sarcastically that he might have gone there to take stock of the coronavirus
situation in the national capital. “He goes to Delhi and speaks about Maharashtra’s COVID-19 situation since he has given his MLA funds in Delhi,” the CM said in an apparent dig at BJP MLAs donating to PM Cares Fund and not to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

“Recently, a survey listed Maharashtra chief minister as the best CM in the country. This caused stomach pain to many,” he said.

Thackeray also rejected the criticism that his government had hidden the number of coronavirus victims. “The WHO and Washington Post have taken note of the
state governments efforts,” he said.

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