Stay home, it's biggest patriotism right now: Kejriwal
New Delhi, Mar 29: Pleading migrant labourers to stay put in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday that the "biggest patriotism" right now is to "stay wherever you are" and make the 21-day countrywide lockdown a success or India could fail against the coronavirus outbreak.
Kejriwal said the country has to fight the virus with "Arjuna's vision", totally focussed. Thousands of labourers, rendered jobless due to the lockdown, had gathered at a bus terminus near UP-Delhi border and hundreds even started walking down thousands of kilometres in a desperate attempt to reach their homes, triggering fears that efforts to contain the spread of the virus could fail.
In an online press briefing, the chief minister referred to mass exodus and warned if even one person among the labourers has the virus, he could infect others and the disease could reach the villages.
"A large number of people are returning from cities to their villages. I appeal to them — please stay wherever you are," Kejriwal said, citing developed countries like the US and Italy, who have been struggling to contain the virus and where it has killed thousands of people and infected lakhs.
"Thankfully, India is not in that stage yet," he said. "The biggest patriotism right now is to stay inside your homes," he said, urging those who step out of their homes to remain indoors.
"If people don't follow the mantra, this lockdown will fail, we will fail, and this county will fail in containing the outbreak." Kejriwal said his government has made arrangements to provide food and accommodation in schools.
"We have emptied the stadiums and made arrangements for people to stay there too if a need arises. We are giving freed food to four lakh people daily, lunch and dinner. Let's fight this together."
In an appeal to industrialists and businessmen, he said, "I appeal to you with folded hands, if you have earned wealth, this is the time to use it...God bestowed wealth on you for times like these."
He also appealed to contractors to pay their workers and not let them sleep hungry.
"This is the time to be humane, to help one another. We spend our lives accumulating wealth, but it is of no use after we die," he added.
Kejriwal also urged people to spend their time reading the holy text of the Gita. "There are 18 chapters of Bhagavad Gita. In my family, we have started reading Gita. You can also do so," he added.
He said it's heartening that the entire country was fighting against this pandemic "like one bid team".
"From the Centre to the state government, irrespective of the party, and people are fighting it like one big team.
Delhi government is learning from the good practices of other governments," he said.
The number of cases of coronavirus in Delhi on Sunday mounted to 72, up from 49 on Saturday night, according to the Delhi Health Department.
The chief minister again flagged the issue of landlords "forcing" their tenants to pay monthly rents.
"I appeal to all landlords in Delhi, if you consider me your son, your brother, please assure your tenants, you will not force them to pay rent. Postpone it for two-three months," Kejriwal urged.
"If a tenant is unable to pay after this crisis is over, I assure you my government will pay for them," the chief minister said, warning those who try to evict their tenants of strong government action.