‘Don’t bulldoze federal structure,’ Mamata Banerjee tells PM Modi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Don’t bulldoze federal structure,’ Mamata Banerjee tells PM Modi

Hindustan Times, Kolkata | BySnigdhendu Bhattacharya | Edited by Sabir Hussain
May 12, 2020 01:27 AM IST

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the Centre not to charge migrants train fare to return home, sought 6% of national GDP for health and an immediate moratorium on repayment of loans and interest by the state.

At Monday’s video conference of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with chief ministers, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee complained that “some union ministers were playing politics”, alleged “discrimination against people of Bengal” and that the state was being targeted by the Centre.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s outburst came following a string of criticism by the Centre on a wide range of issues about the handling of Covid-19 situation in Bengal.(ANI)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s outburst came following a string of criticism by the Centre on a wide range of issues about the handling of Covid-19 situation in Bengal.(ANI)

She also asked the Centre not to charge migrants train fare to return home, sought 6% of national GDP for health and an immediate moratorium on repayment of loans and interest by the state and demanded that the states be allowed to borrow from the Reserve Bank at the repo rate.

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However, the focus of her speech, as revealed to journalists by her party Trinamool Congress (TMC), was politics in times of a pandemic. She said that the Centre was always welcome to send letters but objected to the way the communications had been leaked to the media.

“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? I request this must not happen to other states,” Banerjee said.

“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.

“When something happens in Gujarat or an ordinance is declared to snatch away the rights of the labourers in Uttar Pradesh, why don’t you question them? Why are you targeting Bengal and its people by sending notices?” she added.

Her outburst came following a string of criticism by the Centre on a wide range of issues about the handling of Covid-19 situation in Bengal. Over the past few weeks, the state faced criticism from the ministry of health, the union home ministry, the ministry of railways and the inter-ministerial central teams that visited the state.

“I appeal to you to trust the state. This is not the time for ideological battle,” Banerjee told PM Modi during the videoconferencing. “My only humble request is don’t bulldoze the federal structure.”

She also alleged that the Centre had “no fixed planning about the post-lockdown phase” and that meetings were being held after the Centre had already taken decisions.

“We are together in this crisis; there should be no finger-pointing at states who are reporting higher numbers because it’s neither their fault nor their people’s fault.”

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued to attack Banerjee’s government. On Monday, all senior leaders of Bengal BJP, including Kailash Vijayvargiya, union ministers Babul Supriyo and Debasree Chaudhuri, used social media to attack the Bengal government for alleged minority appeasement even in times of a pandemic, mismanagement over brining migrant workers back, implementing a lax lockdown and failure in managing the public distribution system.

“Centre is not playing politics. Centre had to intervene because the state was failing its people. The state played hide and seek with data and the real Covid-19 scenario, let the lockdown be easily violated, corrupted the public distribution system and also wanted to leave the migrant workers at lurch. In every case, the state acted after the Centre intervened. The home and health departments proved to be utmost failure and both portfolios are held by the chief minister,” BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said.

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