The Karnataka government on Tuesday said it will soon be announcing a set of strict guidelines, aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the state, amid intense speculation that it may go in for lockdown like restrictions in Bengaluru and a few other places.
At the all-party meeting chaired by Governor Vajubhai Vala Tuesday to discuss the measures to be taken, leaders of all political parties advised the government for strict measures, with JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy even demanding a lockdown.
"The situation in the state has aggravated, therefore some extraordinary measures are necessary. Lots of suggestions have come from the video conference conducted by the Governor," Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.
Speaking to reporters after a virtual all-party meeting, he said, some leaders pointed to the ill-effects of lockdown like restrictions, while calling for strict measures, some have suggested that such severe steps were necessary to control the spread of virus.
"The Chief Minister will have another round of discussion with experts and officers and we will take a call probably by tonight...it will be a very pragmatic, but tough decision...The Governor has also suggested strict measures for a healthy Karnataka after consulting the Technical Advisory Committee," he added.
Revenue Minister R Ashoka said that we have to come to a stage where we will have to take tough decisions.
According to sources, the state's Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on COVID has reportedly recommended more rigorous restrictions and enforcement of strict measures in the state.
The virtual all-party meeting was attended by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy from hospitals where they are currently undergoing treatment for COVID.
It was also attended by Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah, state Congress President D K Shivakumar, LoP in the legislative council S R Patil, Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, Health Minister K Sudhakar, members of TAC among others.
Siddaramaiah, at the very beginning of his remarks, took objection to the Governor calling for an all-party meeting and called it "unconstitutional", noting that there is a council of ministers that exist in the state and the Governor cannot directly interfere in the administration of the state.
The Governor can do such things only during President's rule when there is no elected government in place, he said, adding "I don't know whether Yediyurappa has obtained an opinion from the Advocate General...The Governor cannot take decision from the outcome of this meeting, it is the Council of Ministers who have to take it."
Later asking the government to go by the recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee consisting of experts, regarding containment measures, Siddaramaiah said, if the situation calls for a lockdown, the government should give Rs 10,000 per family for the poor, before going ahead.
Hitting out at the government for not taking into account the earlier warning by the Technical Advisory Committee about the second wave, he pointed at reports about shortage of beds, oxygen, critical drugs among other things.
"I demand declaring this as a health emergency, and as a national disaster by the centre...Test people coming from other states compulsorily," he said.
He also asked the government to discuss with the state election commission and postpone the Zilla and Taluk Panchayat polls in the state.
Kumaraswamy on his part urged the government to impose lockdown in few cities including Bengaluru that have seen spike in cases, and said it was 'inevitable'. "My demand to the government is to impose lockdown from today itself. Our government's financial situation is not bankrupt, our people are capable of giving financial strength to the state," he said.
Impose lockdown in Bengaluru, Kalaburagi, Mysuru, Tumakuru, Bidar and few other cities immediately and stop people coming from Maharashtra, Goa and other states, he added.
Kumaraswamy also urged the government to announce financial assistance for the needy to lead life for a month, on imposition of the lockdown, as he asked it to utilize the time to increase medical capacity required.
State Congress President D K Shivakumar said, we have told the government that they have failed, and have asked to take a decision based on the Technical Advisory Committee report.
"We also objected to the Governor calling for an all party meeting as it is 'unconstitutional'," he said, and urged the government to stop all developmental work and divert it towards COVID mitigation.
An amount of Rs 30,000 crore should be set aside for the health sector to address the COVID situation, Shivakumar added.