Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday directly accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of barring her and other Opposition party CMs from speaking up for their demands on the Covid-19 pandemic at a virtual meeting chaired by him.
This was also the first time the Trinamul Congress supremo came face to face with Mr Modi officially after her party came to power for the third time in the state by defeating the BJP in the Assembly election.
Tearing into Mr Modi, Ms Banerjee alleged: “Ten CMs, including me, were present with some district magistrates there. We however did not allow the DMs from our state to attend it since a CM, if present, gets the priority over them. In a federal structure, though the CMs were invited, they were not allowed to speak about their public demands. They were made to sit like puppets and bonded labourers. Only the PM kept talking all through without even giving us a chance. It was just a casual and a super-flop meeting."
She said: “We were astonished at the bulldozing of the federal structure by an arrogant PM as if martial law has been imposed in the country. We felt insulted and humiliated. It happened one way. I think all the non-BJP-ruled states should form a team to lodge a protest against the BJP at the Centre.”
The TMC chief wondered: “Why is the PM feeling so insecure and scared? Why is he fleeing away? In his speech, he claimed that Covid-19 deaths are decreasing. Then why are so many deaths there? Why are bodies being thrown away in the river? Namami Gange has now become Mrityupuri Gange.”
Ms Banerjee also noted that her demand for the dispatch of three crore vaccines had not been met by the Centre. According to her, even if she gets the doses now, her government will complete the drive in the next three months. The CM later wrote another letter to the PM to send more vaccines to the state for the Central government employees working on essential services.
Lashing out at Ms Banerjee immediately, Leader of the Opposition Shuvendu Adhikari tweeted: “Today, our respected CM @MamataOfficial has once again shown her total disinterest in administration. True to her style, she has politicised a meeting Hon’ble PM @narendramodi held with District Officials, where grassroots level practices to fight COVID-19 were being discussed.”
He also claimed: “5 out of the 7 District Officials who spoke today belonged to non-BJP ruled states of Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and AP. Cooperative federalism is the firm commitment of PM @narendramodi unlike CM @MamataOfficial who only believes in confrontational federalism. West Bengal’s Covid numbers are miserable, but the Chief Minister wants to play politics. The @AITCofficial is still busy in gory victory dances and targeting opponents. It is better they get down to work because the great People of West Bengal are watching!”