Published On: Mon, May 11th, 2020

Lockdown ‘poorly planned’, Centre ‘playing politics’ over pandemic: Mamata

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday accused the Centre of ‘playing politics’ over the COVID-19 outbreak and dubbed the nationwide lockdown a ‘poorly planned’ exercise, sources in the state”s ruling TMC said.

“I appeal to you (PM) to trust the state. This is not the time for ideological battle but this battle is happening every day,” the statement quoting Mamata Banerjee said.

Banerjee, while speaking during a virtual interaction Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with chief ministers on the pandemic, said there was a sharp contradiction between the lockdown order issued by the Centre and subsequent directives on relaxations.

Calling the nationwide lockdown a ‘poorly planned’ exercise, she suggested that states be allowed to decide on which sectors to open and which to keep shut keeping in mind the situation on the ground.

“On one hand the Centre wants the lockdown to be enforced strictly, and on the other it is resuming train services and reopening land borders. What is the point in continuing with the lockdown if the railways, land borders and all other sectors are allowed to reopen? This is contradictory,” TMC sources quoted her as having told the meeting.

She also launched a frontal attack on Union Home Minister Amit Shah for allegedly releasing to media a letter he had written to the state about not allowing trains to ferry migrant labourers to West Bengal.

“….why did Mr. Amit Shah need to write a letter and send that to the press? After it was out in the news, people were asking me. What am I supposed to do? Why dont you speak to us directly? I request this must not happen to other states,” a TMC press release later quoted her as having said during the interaction.

Banerjee said she respected Shah but deprecated his decision of sending the letter to media beforehand.

She said West Bengal, despite ranking the lowest among the 10 states worst affected by the disease, was being “discriminated against”.

“I don’t feel good saying this but why this discrimination against people of Bengal? Why letters are being sent to the media with rampant accusations?” she asked.

The TMC supremo also wondered why the Centre did not question the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh when it came out with an ordinance suspending various laws to “snatch away” the rights of labourers.

“I appeal to you (PM) to trust the state. This is not the time for ideological battle but this battle is happening every day,” the statement quoting Banerjee said.

She asserted that the federal structure should not be bulldozed and the states allowed to decide on the lockdown and the related relaxations.

“We want to fight the pandemic alongside the central government. But Bengal has been unnecessarily targeted politically. Instead of shifting the onus on the states, the Centre should come out with a clear strategy on the way forward,” she told the meeting.

All states, including West Bengal, firmly stand with the Centre reflecting the true spirit of federalism, and more importantly, the spirit of humanity, she said.

She also raked up the issue of the Centre dispatching two teams to the state to take stock of the spread of the pandemic and steps taken to stem it “without prior intimation”.

She also alleged that migrant workers were being made to pay for their journey back home.

“If the centre fails to pay, we are willing to pay for the migrant workers. Centre must make provisions for 100 per cent testing of all these people so they could return to their native places without any risk of spreading the virus, she said.

PTI

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