Amid a war of words between the Centre and West Bengal government over Inter-Ministerial Central Teams being sent to the state for assessment of coronavirus-hit districts, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday alleged that faulty testing kits were dispatched to the state.
Addressing a press conference, Mamata Banerjee said canards were being spread that the state was not conducting adequate testing. “This is absolutely false. Faulty kits were sent to Bengal which have now been withdrawn. We didn’t even get adequate testing kits,” Banerjee said.
The Bengal CM, who has been at loggerheads with the Centre after it was pulled up for not adhering to the lockdown measures and allowing certain relaxations, said her government was doing the best it can to stem the spread of the pandemic.
“Every day they (Centre) are telling us what to do and what not to do, sending people to look into the law and order situation and our preparedness against coronavirus. They are sending us strongly worded letters. We can also send them letters. But that’s not the point,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Mamata Banerjee government assured cooperation to the two Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) that landed in the state on Monday upon the Home Ministry’s directions. The development came after the visit of the two teams got off to a rocky start.
While the north Bengal team could not move out the entire day on Tuesday, the team in Kolkata stepped out in the morning only to be told by police to make a U-turn.
Late Tuesday night, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla shot off a letter to Rajiv Sinha, the Chief Secretary, asking him to comply with the Union Home Ministry’s order on easing of restrictions in the state.
On the Centre’s allegation of non-cooperation with the team, Sinha wrote, “It is not a fact that central teams have not been provided any cooperation by West Bengal govt. In fact, the teams arrived without any prior consultation with us and, therefore, there was neither such opportunity to provide any logistic support not the Team asked for any help.”
Citing frequent lockdown violations in certain states, the Home Ministry has dispatched teams to the Opposition-ruled states of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, besides Madhya Pradesh.
In the case of West Bengal, the MHA has identified seven districts where it said “the situation is especially serious” in terms of “prevalence of such violations”.