As the country battles COVID-19 Pandemic, some Chief Ministers have proved to be efficient, while some have proved administratively incompetent. However, one common factor has been that everyone seems to take the Pandemic seriously, and even self-acclaimed mavericks like Arvind Kejriwal have cooperated with the Centre.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, continues to be at loggerheads with the Centre even during tough times like this, and in line with her confrontational attitude, Mamata Banerjee is once again sparring with the Centre over the Coronavirus Pandemic strategy.
On Friday, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs extended the lockdown by two weeks once again, but all the districts in the country have now been classified into Red, Orange and Green zones as many relaxations have also been announced in the ongoing lockdown.
But Mamata Banerjee government is now not happy with the Centre’s classification of districts into three zones in West Bengal. While other Chief Ministers fight Coronavirus, Mamata Banerjee is eager to pick up fights with the Centre and probably hog limelight in political circles.
West Bengal government has now written a letter to the Centre, which the former claims to have reflect the “correct” position of Red, Orange and Green zones in the districts.
West Bengal Principal Secretary (Health) Vivek Kumar has written to the Union Health Secretary, alleging that the presentation made by the Cabinet Secretary on April 30 during a video conference with states was “erroneous”.
The letter reads, “With regard to the presentation made in the Cabinet Secretary’s video conference with the states on April 30 at 3pm, as many as 10 districts of West Bengal were shown in the Red Zone. This is an erroneous assessment. Based on the current parameters of the Government of India for categorisation of areas for Covid-19, the districts in the Red Zone (in West Bengal) are only four: Kolkata, Howrah, North-24 Paraganas and Purba Medinipur.”
Apart from sparring with the Centre, this is another deliberate attempt by the Mamata Banerjee government to hush up matters when it comes to the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
For quite some time now, West Bengal is being suspected of downplaying the number of confirmed cases as well as the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state.
Earlier, there have been reports of people in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) burying a dead body under suspicious circumstances in West Bengal. The deceased had supposedly died due to a cardiac arrest, but locals got enraged at the sight of people wearing PPEs burying the dead body.
Moreover, the Mamata Banerjee government has formed a Committee of Experts which decides if a COVID-19 patient has died of coronavirus or “co-morbidities”. This is as absurd as deciding if an HIV-AIDS patient died out of the infection or due to other medical conditions.
West Bengal is the only part of the world where “experts” analyse whether a coronavirus patient has died due to the contagion or “co-morbidities”.
Mamata Banerjee government has been very particular about not letting the Centre take a correct perspective of how severe the outbreak is within West Bengal.
Last month when the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) visited the state, it was taken on a guided tour and not allowed to visit the COVID-19 high-risk zones.
Now, the Mamata Banerjee government is literally playing with the lives of the people of the state by demanding a reduction of Red zone districts at a time when the state is being seen as a ticking time bomb with a high reproduction number, that is, the number of people who are infected on an average from an already infected person, and an abysmal doubling rate of 7.13 days between April 23 to April 27, compared to th national doubling rate of 15 days.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s incessantly confrontational attitude against the Centre could thus spell a major disaster for the state of West Bengal.