Kolkata: Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said she felt “insulted and humiliated” at the Covid meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi - with chief ministers and district magistrates - because the CMs were made to sit “like puppets”, without being given a chance to speak. She termed the virtual meeting “casual and a super flop” and alleged Modi tried to “play down” the Covid threat. The PM was feeling “insecure” and trying to hide it by sheer arrogance, she said.
“Are we puppets or bonded labour? We were invited to the meeting while the PM interacted with some of the DMs and then gave a speech. He didn’t have the courtesy to listen to us,” Mamata said after the meeting got over. “The CMs of Bengal, Maharashtra and Kerala were present in the meeting. We had many things to ask about the supply of vaccines, oxygen and medicines, but we couldn’t. There are black fungus cases in the state. Nobody asked us about it. It is a blatant violation of the federal spirit. All the CMs should come together against such an insult.”
Mamata said Modi tried to play down the Covid threat. “The PM said the Covid wave was on the slide. This is what they did after the first wave. You all know how elections were held in eight phases despite our plea to club the phases and how the virus has now spread to the villages,” she said.
Mamata tried to derail meeting, says BJP
Meanwhile, recalling occasions when West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee did not participate in meetings called by Modi on Covid in the past, BJP said Mamata tried to derail the PM’s interaction with district magistrates on management of the disease. At a press conference, senior BJP functionary and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the district magistrate of 24 Parganas was scheduled to speak during the online meeting with the PM but was not allowed to do so by the chief minister. Prasad said Mamata's behaviour was shameful and condemnable but it was only expected from her as the leader has shown her disdain for meetings called by the PM to discuss measures to control the pandemic.
Modi held a second round of interaction with DMs and field officials on the Covid-19 pandemic, but the CM had only a disruptionist agenda, said Prasad. Other chief ministers had been present on previous such interactions but had not turned it into a political score-settling exercise. “Prime Minister Modi had called a meeting of district magistrates to share their experiences of good work they are doing in their respective districts. The behaviour of Mamata was highly indecent in the meeting as she tried to derail the entire meeting,” Prasad said.