The West Bengal government on Wednesday changed the statewide lockdown dates for this month a fourth time in a fortnight and dropped August 28 from the list earlier announced, triggering criticism from opposition parties.
While CPI(M) said the Mamata Banerjee government has made lockdown a “farce”, the Congress said the CM should consult experts before making such changes. The BJP claimed the move has political import, and meant to please a “particular community”.
As per the latest government order, the lockdown dates, after dropping August 28 (Friday), for the remainder of this month are August 20 (Thursday), 21 (Friday), 27 (Thursday) and 31 (Monday).
The order states: “Several communications have been received citing difficulty to conduct of business and banking operations because of two days lockdown during Thursday and Friday in the last week of August followed by one-day lockdown on the following Monday…”
On July 28, Banerjee had declared 10 dates in August for the lockdown, but addressed the media again within 15 minutes and reduced the number to nine. The government also changed dates that coincided with Ganesh Chaturthi and Muharram.
Hours later, the dates were revised a second time, with August 2 and 9 dropped from the list, as they coincided with Balaram Puja and the Quit India Movement anniversary.
On August 4, dates of five lockdown days were changed: August 16, 17, 23, and 24 were replaced with August 20, 21, 27, and 28.
While the government has termed the lockdown “biweekly” – or twice a week – the latest dates suggest there would be no lockdown in the second week of August: from August 10-16.
Reacting to Wednesday’s decision, BJP leader Rahul Sinha said, “This announcement has two aspects – one is political, the other communal. That day (August 28) is the anniversary of (foundation of Congress’s) Chhatra Parishad, and also Trinamul Chhatra Parishad. The other reason is August 29 is Muhurram, so they (TMC government) are withdrawing August 28 to please a particular community.”
Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury said, “The Chief Minister should consult doctors before announcing lockdown dates. This kind of changing and announcements of lockdown dates will not fulfil the purpose.”
CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakra-borty said, “Lockdown is a serious matter to contain the spread of Covid. But the government has made it funny and a farce.”