Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of bypassing the federal structure and humiliating Chief Ministers of states at a meeting today. The Prime Minister, she said, did not offer any financial support or even allow any Chief Minister to speak.
“This was not a one-way communication… it was one way humiliation… One nation, all humiliation,” said Ms Banerjee who was part of several meetings on Covid and had skipped a few.
“Is the Prime Minister so insecure that he didn’t want to listen to the Chief Ministers? Why is he so scared? If he didn’t want to hear the Chief Ministers why call us? He let some District Magistrates speak and insulted the Chief Ministers,” said Ms Banerjee, who came to power in Bengal for a third straight term recently after an all-out battle that was seen as a direct fight between her and the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister, she said, never asked about the availability of beds, vaccine or oxygen or about the status of the black fungus infection in Covid patients. “We are embarrassed, ashamed,” she repeated, pointing out that she had gone to meeting prepared to flag several issues.
Accusing the Prime Minister of being “arrogant” and “casual”, she said: “So many states were represented. No one was allowed to speak. What do they think? Are we bonded labourers or puppets? Only they matter? They are completely demolishing the federal structure.”
The 66-year-old, seen as one of the most powerful opposition leaders after her stupendous victory in the assembly elections in face of the BJP’s mighty election machinery, repeatedly underscored what she called “insult” to the country’s federal structure.
“I am not speaking on behalf of all chief ministers. But what is happening is… dictatorship, like martial law is going on,” added the Chief Minister, who, in an unprecedented step by the Central Bureau of Investigation, was made party to the Narada bribery case and accused of creating “terror”.
Two of her ministers were arrested in the case on Monday after Governor Jagdeep Dhankar had given a clearance to put them on trial. Ms Banerjee and her party have accused the CBI of ignoring proper procedures.
The Chief Minister alluded to the issue today, saying, “When some things happened in our state, they sent central teams. How many central teams were sent to Uttar Pradesh?”
“The UP situation… with bodies flowing in rivers… is a very serious situation,” she said, adding “We are a riverine country. To keep no record (of Covid) they polluted the Ganga… and they say nothing has happened in UP. What they have done is demolishing Ganga Mai. Nature will not forgive you”.
She also accused the Central government of “making buildings and statues, breaking this, building that” – seen as a reference to the Central Vista project in the heart of Delhi — when “young people are dying”.
“On this day 10 years ago, I took oath as the Chief Minister for the first time to serve the people of West Bengal as we embarked on a new path for the state’s development… I’m grateful to Maa-Mati-Manush for always blessing me with their trust. I pledge to take Bangla to even greater heights,” added Ms Banerjee.
The rebuttal came quickly from Suvendu Adhikari, Ms Banerjee’s aide turned arch-rival who has bested her in the battle for Nandigram.
“Today, our respected CM @MamataOfficial has once again shown her total disinterest in administration. True to her style, she has politicised a meeting Hon’ble PM @narendramodi held with District Officials, where grassroots level practices to fight COVID-19 were being discussed,” Mr Adhikari tweeted.
In another of a series of tweets, Mr Adhikari said, “To state clearly, PM @narendramodi has held numerous meetings with Chief Ministers in the last few months, how many did @MamataOfficial attend? ZERO. Now, she hijacks a PM-DM meet to say she was denied a chance to speak. Shameful!”
5 out of the 7 District Officials who spoke today belonged to non-BJP ruled states of Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and AP.Cooperative federalism is the firm commitment of PM @narendramodi unlike CM @MamataOfficial who only believes in confrontational federalism,” read another tweet.