West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday took strong exception to Chief Ministers not being allowed to speak at a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“It was just a casual, super flop meeting. We, the CMs, felt insulted and humiliated,” she told journalists at the State Secretariat after the conclusion of the meeting between the Prime Minister and 10 Chief Ministers.
Ms. Banerjee said that she thought that she would be allowed to speak and raise issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic but was shocked and astonished at not being allowed to speak. She also added that she had listed down several points she wanted to raise with Mr. Modi.
“The country is passing through a critical juncture but the Prime Minister’s approach is very casual. They have demolished the federal structure…If the Chief Ministers were not allowed to speak, why were they invited?,” she asked.
Ms. Banerjee said that vaccines, medicines, oxygen, remdesivir were not being provided by the Centre, and the States could not procure these from markets because of non-availability.
Referring to the slow pace of vaccination, Ms. Banerjee said, “If States were to accept his [PM’s] formula of vaccination, it will take 10 years to vaccinate people”.
“It was one-way insult, one-way humiliation…No Chief Minister was allowed to speak. Only a few CMs from BJP-ruled States were allowed to speak,” she said.
Ms. Banerjee asked how many Central teams were sent to Uttar Pradesh when bodies of suspected COVID patients were found floating in river Ganga.
She also accused the Centre of indulging in “vendetta politics” during the time of pandemic.
On Ministers’ arrest
“I will not speak on matters relating to courts, but it is political vendetta. Three to four days have passed, Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim [State Ministers] are not allowed to deal with the pandemic,” Ms. Banerjee said, referring to the arrest of the two Ministers in Narada case.
Speaking on the COVID situation in the State, Ms. Banerjee charged that the infection had reached rural areas because of the eight-phase election.