'Shameless PM' failed to handle COVID crisis, meet vaccine demands: Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee sought to know why money from the PM Cares Fund wasn't used to bear the expenses of the vaccination drive in the country.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo | PTI)
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo | PTI)

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said the Centre has failed to meet the vaccine requirements of the state, forcing her dispensation to make purchases on its own, and described Narendra Modi as "a shameless prime minister" who has his picture pasted everywhere - from hoardings to inoculation certificates.

Banerjee, during her address in the Assembly, said that Bengal has received two crore shots so far, which is "very inadequate", given the state's population, and administering free doses to all under such circumstances was a challenge for her government.

"We have already vaccinated 2.26 crore people. And for that, we had to buy at least 26 lakh doses on our own, despite promises by the Centre that it would provide the required number of doses," she stated.

The chief minister also sought to know why money from the PM Cares Fund wasn't used to bear the expenses of the vaccination drive in the country.

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. I have seen many prime ministers, but none so shameless...." Banerjee said.

Bengal 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 point fingers at Bengal should look in the mirror, the TMC supremo said, lashing out at Adityanath, who had criticised the TMC dispensation at 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 they created during Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar's inaugural speech in the Assembly on July 2.

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.

Banerjee further said that the incumbent governor, chosen by the BJP leadership at the Centre, should have been allowed to address the House by the party's MLAs in the state.

"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 chief minister said during her speech in the House, after thanking the governor for his inaugural address.

The CM, referring to allegations of post-poll violence against 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 them that you cannot threaten a state in this manner," she said.

Earlier, too, the TMC boss had alleged that the EC works at the behest of the BJP-led Centre.

Accusing the saffron party of plotting conspiracies, she said, "During and immediately after the elections, the BJP circulated fake videos to spread hatred. We have photos, we have evidence. I will place these on your (speaker's) table," 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 kishan 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 over the last decade.

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 said.

The CM noted that around 2.75 crore people have benefited from the 33,000 camps set up as part of her government's Duare Sarkar (government at doorstep) initiative.

"Next year, the government will embark on the drive again at least twice," she said.

Banerjee also said that her dispensation will observe 'Khela hobe' divas to promote sporting activities, but the date for the same was yet to be decided.

'Khela Hobe' (game will be played) was TMC's campaign slogan for assembly elections.

"If the opposition is unable to see any development, despite all our efforts, there is nothing more that can be said about it. They (BJP leaders), however, are unfazed about the rising fuel process. Shame on such a party and its people," she added.

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