West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today blamed the BJP for the resurgence of COVID-19 in parts of the state and said had the government vaccinated everyone in time, there wouldn’t have been this second outbreak of the pandemic.
Speaking at an election campaign rally at Jalpaiguri in north Bengal today, she attacked the BJP, without naming the party, for importing the virus into Bengal through the hundreds of “outsiders” it was bringing into the state for election campaign.
The Trinamool candidate for whom she was campaigning at the rally, Dr Pradip Barma, was absent from the stage. He has tested positive for Covid and is in hospital with mild symptoms.
Ms Banerjee did not share these details. She only said Pradip Barma has a cold and cough and unable to attend the rally.
“Where were you all these days? You have brought Covid and run away. We had cured everything. If they had given the vaccination to all the people in time, then there would be no new cases of Covid,” Ms Banerjee said, referring to the BJP without naming the party.
“Do you know, they have got a whole lot of people into the state. In the name of election campaign, they have got so many outsiders and they have spread the disease here and run away and now they say ‘Give us the vote’,” she said.
“Disease can strike anyone anytime. People should get proper treatment. But when there was Covid here last time, none of them came here. Now they are only coming for elections,” added the Trinamool Congress chief.
The BJP has condemned her comments.
“Instead of sitting and drawing pictures at Gandhi statue yesterday for three-and-a-half hours, she could have held a meeting with health officials. That would have helped the people of Bengal,” said Jay Prakash Majumdar, vice-president of the BJP, adding, “She is the health minister of the state after all.”
The Chief Election Officer of Bengal has called an all-party meeting on April 16 to discuss the steps needed to enforce the Calcutta High Court’s directive on enforcing Covid-appropriate behaviour at election rallies and roadshows.
Ms Banerjee was heard ticking off one of her aides who approached her on stage without a mask. He had come to hand over a football to her to throw to a member of the audience as part of the “Khela hobey” anthem of the Trinamool Congress.
He came very close to her and Ms Banerjee said sharply, “Why aren’t you wearing a mask? Everyone must wear their mask. Please wear it”.