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MVA: United against COVID-19, divided over fresh lockdown

The imposition of the complete lockdown, yet again, for the next 10 days within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) has led to some friction among the three ruling parties of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

According to sources from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), both are unhappy over the haphazard manner in which the decision to extend the lockdown for over one month across the State, and later the 10-day strict restrictions in seven of the nine municipal corporations within the MMR was taken. The two parties are disappointed that they were not consulted before going ahead with the decision in the MMR.

“No, we were not asked or informed. We are not against any measure to control COVID-19. But this is a coalition government, and it is expected that decisions are shared or informed before announcing to the public,” a Cabinet minister from the Congress said.

Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan, as well as NCP chief Sharad Pawar have, in the past, met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to air grievances over attempts by the administration to sideline ministers and what they called the CM’s overdependence on bureaucracy. The leaders have conveyed to Mr. Thackeray that it is creating problems in the functioning of the government and the issue needs to be addressed with due seriousness. A Cabinet minister from the NCP too expressed his displeasure over the manner in which decisions are being taken and the over-dependence on bureaucracy. “A collective decision in a coalition government will give better results than the one based only on inputs from the administration. The political class is directly in touch with the public and might be in a better position to give ground reports,” he said.

The NCP minister also said the lockdown imposed by the seven municipal corporations has created confusion among the general public as many engaged in essential services travel to Mumbai. “The MMR is different than any other district or region in the State, as it is inter-connected. There has to be a uniform policy,” he said.

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