Mamata Banerjee tears into the Centre at PMs conference

"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 don’t you speak to us directly? Why letters are being sent to the media with rampant accus...

Agencies
Officials said the CM was extremely upset over the Centre pre-deciding parameters and modalities of the lockdown without any consultation with the state.
NEW DELHI: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tore into the Centre at the Prime Minister’s conference with the Chief Ministers on Monday, launching a scathing attack on particularly the Union Home Ministry for discriminating against the state.

"I respect Mr. Amit Shah. Last time also he spoke about West Bengal and I could not counter him because I was not given a chance. But, 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 don’t you speak to us directly? Why letters are being sent to the media with rampant accusations?" the West Bengal CM said at the meeting.

Tensions between the Centre and West Bengal government came to a head as Banerjee got a chance to speak at the video-conference and she accused the Centre of targeting her government even as she was co-operating with the Centre in the fight against Covid-19. Officials said the CM was extremely upset over the Centre pre-deciding parameters and modalities of the lockdown without any consultation with the state. “If you continue to conduct meetings after having taken the decision, then what is the point of the meeting?” she said.


“Why always target West Bengal? We are not even consulted before decisions are taken before-hand from Delhi are imposed on us. Teams from Centre are sent without any prior notice. Will the state work or hold meetings with the central teams? If the central teams ask our chief secretary and health secretary to come and guide them, then how will they continue their work? Or should we call them as ‘Babus’ and behave as bonded labourers? Hon’ble Prime Minister you know this, you have been a Chief Minister of a state yourself. All states must get their due respect,” Banerjee told PM and Home Minister in a no-holds barred attack.

“We have been working relentlessly yet some of the central ministers are sitting and doing politics. States must be given independence regarding handling of lockdown because states understand the situation on the ground better. You have to maintain the federal structure. Leaking letters is not in the federal spirit. Let us rise above the politics,” the CM said. She also questioned why Railways was charging fares from migrants and said if the Centre cannot pay, she is willing to pay the fares. “I request Mr. Amit Shah to ensure that no money is taken from the migrant workers. They do not have money. If it is needed, please ask us, we will pay,” the CM told the PM and the Home Minister.

Banerjee said the Centre owed West Bengal a huge sum of nearly Rs 53,000 Cr, including GST dues. “Corona positive cases in Bengal are 200 per 10 Crore. Even though we had less testing centres and faulty kits, Bengal has done better than many other states on many parameters,” the CM said, defending her state’s record.
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“We all know this virus has come from outside India. Yet, when we are not pointing fingers at any other country, why are we pointing fingers at our own states and our own people? How can we hold our own people responsible? How can we raise fingers at them,” the CM said.

Banerjee added that West Bengal is a very sensitive state and one cannot compare Bengal with Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland or Bihar. “ West Bengal is surrounded by the Bangladesh border, Nepal border and also the north-eastern regions. It is very difficult to control everything together,” she told the PM.

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