Senior leaders of the Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) have taken to social media to complain about West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee not being listed as a speaker at Wednesday’s video-conference (VC) of State leaders with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Describing the attitude as discriminatory, the TMC members demanded an explanation from the Centre.
“Centre should explain why is it so averse to the people of Bengal’s concerns, 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?” tweeted Minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Firhad Hakim, who is also the mayor of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
Without the option to address the virtual meeting, Ms. Banerjee’s participation now remains a question. It has been argued that since Ms Banerjee has already spoken in the previous meeting, her name was dropped. In this context, it is unsure if Ms Banerjee would participate in Wednesday’s VC with the Prime Minister.
“It seems the Centre’s so worried about exposing itself to @MamataOfficial’s constructive criticism on #COVID 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,” said Dinesh Trivedi, a former TMC MP.
Many in the TMC camp have argued that West Bengal has “performed considerably well as far as COVID-19 control is concerned” and thus the Centre is reluctant to give it a larger platform to highlight its achievements. The counter-argument is that those States which have not presented their cases earlier “should have the opportunity to speak.”
Both the major opposition parties, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the State Congress, said the decision to drop Bengal from the list of speakers is “unfortunate.”
“There are many questions about Bengal’s fight against corona. But Centre refuses to hear Bengal. Does that indicate that the Centre is not too keen to hear about Bengal,” asked leader of Left Legislature party Sujan Chakraborty.
Congress president Somendra Nath Mitra said the “speakers are not selected through consensus, thus the process [of VC with the Prime Minister] is fast becoming a meaningless exercise.”