People come back to Pune from their native places after the lifting of lockdown at ST Stand, Swargate in Pune.(HT PHOTO)
People come back to Pune from their native places after the lifting of lockdown at ST Stand, Swargate in Pune.(HT PHOTO)

Lockdown was lifted due to pressure from traders: Ajit Pawar on Raut’s remarks

Raut’s remarks, made earlier this week, was seen as indirectly blaming Pawar and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after Pune becoming one of the worst-affected districts in the country with over 1.89 lakh cases and 8,333 deaths till Friday
Hindustan Times, Pune | By Yogesh Joshi, Pune
UPDATED ON SEP 06, 2020 04:31 PM IST

After Shiv Sena Member of Parliament (MP) Sanjay Raut said chief minister Uddhav Thackeray was against “hastily” lifting the Covid-19 lockdown in Pune city, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said the decision was taken in July given the pressure from traders and other stakeholders.

He was in the city on Saturday for various meetings to discuss the Covid-19 crisis here.

Raut’s remarks, made earlier this week, was seen as indirectly blaming Pawar and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after Pune becoming one of the worst-affected districts in the country with over 1.89 lakh cases and 8,333 deaths till Friday.

Responding to the remarks, Pawar said while the chief minister has been of the view that things should open up step by step, several people were of the view that the economy should not suffer for this long.

“Many even said that we have to learn to live with the virus while the traders’ community was insisting on lifting the lockdown. They said attention should be given to livelihood of people dependent on the industry. When a decision is being taken about a big city such as Pune, various people have various views,” said Pawar.

The ten-day lockdown from July 14 to 23 was to break the chain of transmission after the region saw an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases. However, it came under heavy criticism from various quarters including Pune Traders’ Association. Pawar’s response came against the backdrop of rising complaints about unavailability of beds, an issue that has been consistently raised in the city.

To effectively deal with the situation in Pune and western Maharashtra, the chief minister has now appointed former Pune divisional commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar as his advisor, a move seen as another attempt by Shiv Sena to corner Pawar.

Mhaisekar, who retired on July 31, will work from Pune under CM’s principal advisor Ajoy Mehta. Through Mhaisekar, CM will be able to keep direct watch on the situation here, which is currently being monitored by Ajit Pawar. Lifting of lockdown in July fourth week was at the behest of Ajit Pawar, who holds sway in the Pune region. Despite repeated attempts, Mhaisekar did not respond for a comment.

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