April 24, 2021 5:15:40 am
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday alleged that the Central government was depriving the state of its quota of medical oxygen by diverting it to Uttar Pradesh.
“SAIL (Steel Authority of India, a public sector unit) used to supply oxygen to West Bengal. Yesterday, there was an instruction (from the Centre) that SAIL would now supply the same oxygen to Uttar Pradesh. Is Bengal a beggar? When it comes to elections, they (BJP) want to capture Bengal, but when it comes to the oxygen supply, they are diverting it to other states,” Banerjee told reporters in Asansol, adding that she had already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.
The chief minister accused the Central government of being negligent and responsible for the rise in Covid-19 cases in the country by ignoring the World Health Organisation’s warning.
“Currently, there is a crisis of oxygen and medicines. We have stopped supplying oxygen for industrial purposes and decided to use it for only medical purposes. We have arranged 5,000 cylinders, and there is an additional stock of 15,000 cylinders. This will create a storage of 20,000 cylinders, which will meet our requirements for the next few days,” she said.
The TMC chief wondered if BJP leaders from outside West Bengal, who have been campaigning in the ongoing Assembly polls, were infected with the virus, thereby “risking the lives of the people of this state”.
Alleging bias in vaccine distribution, Banerjee said, “Gujarat has been given vaccines to cover 60 per cent of its population while other states have been given not more than 15-20 per cent. In Gujarat, vaccination is being done at (BJP) party offices. We have asked for more vaccines and have urged the Centre to fix a rate.”
Banerjee said that as per a rough estimate, the Centre would need around Rs 20,000 crore to vaccinate the entire population of India. “They have collected lakhs of crores in PM-CARES Fund. Can’t they give this money? How much is being spent to build a new parliament building or a statue? And this is a question of life and death. All it takes is a second to decide,” said Banerjee.
The chief minister claimed that she was not invited to the Covid-19 review meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers of 10 surge states on Friday. “They had invited chief ministers of 10 states where Covid cases are high. But I was not invited. Had I been invited, I would have participated in the meeting,” she said.
Reiterating her allegation that the Election Commission was doing BJP’s bidding, she said, “I cannot do any big rallies and meetings because of the EC directive which came after 10 pm on Thursday… The prime minister was supposed to hold a rally in Kolkata and after he cancelled it, the EC issued a directive. We have been continuously telling the poll panel to club the last three phases of elections, but it will not do so. It is working on BJP’s behalf.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.