Mamata Banerjee to talk to non-BJP state govts for joint stand on Coronavirus

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Kolkata, April 27, 2020-

Alleging that the Centre’s decisions on lockdown enforcement and relaxations lack clarity, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday lashed out at the visiting IMCT delegations for calling her officers indiscriminately, thereby hampering the fight against Covid-19.

Banerjee said she would talk to states which have non-BJP governments to take joint stands on issues like lockdowns, relaxations and management of Covid.

“If something good happens, the Centre takes the credit. If there is a minus point, they will put the discredit on the state government. I will talk to other opposition-run state governments also.

“Sometimes, we try to talk together also. What is their opinion, I want to listen to them also. But the Centre must prepare a plan of action for long-term, mid-term and short-term. Before taking any such decision (like lockdown and giving relaxation to any sector), they must consult the state, because the states are suffering,” she said.

Alleging that the centre never consulted the states before announcing the Covid induced lockdown that began on March 23, she said that “again today, we don’t know how long it would continue. The centre takes the decision. But the states have to implement”.

Banerjee said, that on the one hand, the Centre was asking for strict implementation of the lockdown under high level of monitoring so that no one can venture outdoors, on the other hand, it is directing that all shops be opened.

“They are issuing circulars repeatedly and randomly, without consulting the states. We’d also like to open all shops so that business thrives again. But if all shops are open, there will be large crowds, because in such a situation, you cannot ask people to keep away from going to the shops. So then the lockdown will be a failure. So what are we supposed to do?” she asked.

Banerjee claimed there was “lack of clarity” in what the government was saying and the directions it continued to issue, adding she has asked Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha to get clarity from the Cabinet Secretary on the issues of strict enforcement of lockdown and keeping all shops open.

“We will wait today and tomorrow. Lockdown and opening everything – both can’t go hand in hand. Day after tomorrow, once we know the centre’s stand, we will decide on our steps and inform you (media persons),” she said..

The Chief Minister also slammed the Inter-Ministerial Central Teams now visiting West Bengal for their nature of functioning.

Two IMCTs are now touring north and south Bengal, respectively, since their deputation to the state last week for assessing the ground-level implementation of lockdown and management of Covid-19 in the state.

“If our Chief Secretary and home secretary get busy attending three-hour long video conferences daily, when will they work? If the central teams summon the Chief Secretary in the morning, the Home Secretary in the afternoon, and the Health Secretary in the evening, then when will they work?” asked an angry Banerjee.

The Chief Minister said she was ready to comply with all guidelines of the Central government to fight the growth of the coronavirus, but those should be “proper and transparent”, and without “political interference”.

“This is a war. These things should be kept on hold now. They should look at how despite a lot of differences, we are working with them (centre),” she said.

Banerjee complained that the central team was taking photos if even gatherings of ten persons are there on the streets.

“Anybody can come for assisting us, but not for non-cooperation. This is not the time,” she said.

On the other hand, she accused the Centre of failing to keep its promise of stopping inter-state travel.

“Lots of people are coming here from other states. You had promised interstate lockdown. But I can give you lists of violations.

“People who had gone to Vellore (in Tamil Nadu for medical treatment) are now stranded in Danton, Digha (of West Bengal’s East Midnapore district). If they come to the border areas of my state, then we come under pressure. On Sunday itself, I brought 43 people into Bengal from Jharkhand,” she said.

Banerjee said her government was prepared to take back all migrant workers and others belonging to the state who are stranded elsewhere.

“But the states where they are stranded should do a health screening first before sending them back.”  (Agency)


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