West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will skip the virtual meeting on coronavirus situation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday after it was found that her name was missing from the list of speakers. Instead of her, Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha will attend the meeting, state secretariat sources said on Tuesday.
The video conference will be held at 3 pm on Wednesday, a day after the PM had already held a meeting with chief ministers and Lt Governors of 21 states and Union Territories. During Tuesday’s meeting, Modi said one laxity could undo what had been achieved in the fight against Covid-19 and urged people not to lower their guard against the killer virus.
A senior official of the state secretariat said, “On Wednesday, chief ministers of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Telengana have been offered the opportunity to speak during the meeting. But our CM’s name did not feature in the list. So, our chief minister felt humiliated and decided not to attend the meeting.”
Terming it as an “insult for the people of West Bengal”, the Trinamool Congress hit out at the Modi government accusing the Centre of trying to silence Banerjee’s voice.
Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee and senior TMC leader tweeted, “The Centre has once again humiliated the people of Bengal and decided to silence Mamata Banerjee. The consultation in the name of video conferences is a mere hogwash if the Chief Ministers aren’t allowed to put forth their concerns.”
Expressing concerns, TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar echoed Chatterjee. “The Centre should explain why is it so averse to the concerns of the people of Bengal, as we face this unprecedented crisis, which should’ve been fought together. Why would you call our hon’ble CM for a VC, if you fear her so much that you can’t even let her speak,” she tweeted.
Senior TMC leader and former Union rail minister Dinesh Trivedi said the Centre was worried that the CM would expose the Modi government’s failure on the Covid-19 front. “It seems the Centre’s so worried about exposing itself to Mamata Banerjee’s constructive criticism on Covid-19 response that our hon’ble CM’s been reduced to just a mute spectator for the latest round of VCs with the PM. People of Bengal won’t forgive this!”
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