West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday alleged the Centre has failed to meet the vaccine requirements of the state, forcing her government to make purchases of its own, and described Narendra Modi as “a shameless prime minister” who has his picture pasted everywhere — from roadside hoardings to vaccine certificates.
During her address in the Assembly, Ms Banerjee said Bengal has received two crore anti-Covid vaccine doses so far which is “very inadequate” given the state’s population.
“We have already vaccinated 2.26 crore people. The remaining 26 lakh we had to buy on our own, despite promises by the Centre that it would provide the required number of doses,” she stated.
The CM also sought to know why money from the PM Cares Fund wasn’t used to bear the expenses for the vaccination drive. She claimed that the Centre, due to its faulty policies, couldn’t handle the Covid crisis well.
“Notwithstanding the Centre’s ham-handed policies, we have been able to contain the virus. Our shameless PM has failed the country but his picture is found everywhere — from vaccine certificates to hoardings,” Ms Banerjee said.
The state has started making preparations for the possible third wave of the pandemic, she noted.
Taking a dig at the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, she said, “For days, we saw bodies floating in rivers. Some bodies floated downstream and reached our state. Do they even know how many died in UP (due to the pandemic)? Don”t they feel ashamed?”
Those who criticise Bengal should look in the mirror, the TMC supremo said, lashing out at Adityanath, who had criticised the TMC dispensation during the BJP”s poll campaigns.
Continuing her tirade against the saffron camp, she said its members “do not know courtesy and decency as was evident” from the ruckus during Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar”s speech in the Assembly on July 2.
Mr Dhankhar had to table his address, after reading out a few lines of his 18-page speech, amid protests by BJP MLAs over incidents of post-poll violence in the state.
Ms Banerjee said the governor, chosen by the BJP-led Central government, should have been allowed to address the House by the party MLAs.
“I have seen BJP leaders like Rajnath Singh to Sushma Swaraj… This BJP, however, is different. They (BJP members) do not know culture, courtesy, decency and civility,” the CM said during her speech in the House, after thanking the governor for his inaugural address.
Moments before her address, BJP MLAs walked out of the Assembly after Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari was asked by Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay to refrain from commenting on Nandigram election results as the matter was sub-judice.
The CM, referring to allegations of post-poll violence by TMC workers, said it was the members of the ruling party that endured attacks when the state was under the Election Commission’s supervision for assembly elections.
She maintained that stray incidents of violence were reported after the election results were declared, and her government has taken action in all such cases.
In a jibe at the poll panel, she said, “The EC shifted district magistrates, police superintendents and others at the whims of its observers, who were from their own party (BJP).
“For three months, they (EC) issued threats… But the people of Bengal showed you cannot threaten a state in this manner,” she said. “Had the EC action indirectly not helped the BJP, it would not have get past 30 seats.”
She said there were several instances of electoral malpractices in Nandigram polls and allegations against central forces but she won’t say further on the issue as the matter is sub-judice.
Accusing the saffron party of plotting conspiracies, she said, “During elections and immediately after the elections, the BJP circulated fake videos to spread hatred. Old incidents of Bangladesh, Brazil and Odisha. We have photos, we have evidence. I will place these on your (speaker’s) table,” Ms Banerjee said submitting a bunch of photos to the House.
Alleging that the BJP is trying to divide the state, the CM said, “Bengal is beautiful. Bengal is united. We won’t let that happen at any cost.”
Two BJP MPs have recently raised demands for Bengal’s division – one in north Bengal and the other in Jangalmahal – drawing flak from the TMC and other parties.
Highlighting her government’s achievements, the CM said, “Bengal occupies the number one spot when it comes to generating employment under the 100 days’ work scheme. We are also ahead of all in developing rural roads in the country…We have set up 186 kisan mandis, 24 medical colleges.
“Take a look at the development initiatives in North Bengal. From universities to medical colleges, from river bridges to academies for Rajbangshis, Kamtapuris and other linguistic communities, we have done it all,” she pointed out, countering BJP’s charge that the region has seen little growth.
Trashing the charge of central fund mismanagement, the TMC supremo said the Union government did not pay anything from its coffers for disaster relief.
“The Centre provided very little from the disaster fund, something that the state was already entitled to… Yet, they (BJP leaders) went to town over the matter,” she contended.
Ms Banerjee also said that her dispensation will observe “Khela hobe” divas – the TMC’s campaign slogan for assembly polls – to promote sporting activities, but the date for the same was yet to be decided.