West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Monday’s video conferencing of chief ministers with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was mainly about a one-way communication and the chief ministers had to hear out the PM for three hours.
“We were not given a chance to speak and we were only allowed to listen to the PM for three hours. I wish we would be allowed to speak because I think a two-way communication is always better to share ideas and grievances like the ones related to IMCT (Inter Ministerial Central Team) and funds.”
There has been a lot of bureaucratic tussle and political blame game over the IMCT's visit to the state to assess the situation and the state's handling of the crisis.
She further hit out at the Modi-led Central government for issuing lockdown-related circulars without consulting the state governments and which did not have adequate clarity.
Addressing a press conference at the state secretariat, she said the Centre has no idea about the ground realities and every state has its own problems and grievances.”
Banerjee, who also leads the ruling Trinamool Congress, said there is no clarity on the Union Home Ministry’s circular on allowing shops to remain open in non-containment areas, except those located inside shopping complexes, during the lockdown.
“On the one hand, they want us to enforce strict lockdown and on the other, they are issuing circulars to open the shops. What is going on? If they will issue such circulars, then people will come out on the roads. How can we do both simultaneously? We have sought clarity on this from the Centre on what kinds of shops and establishments will be allowed to start business."
"I have asked my chief secretary to talk to the cabinet secretary on what exactly they want. We will wait for two days and take a final call on April 29 after talking to them. We will then sit for a meeting and convey our decision on Wednesday.”
Stating that her government is still awaiting a financial package from the central government, Banerjee said, “We have to plan a proper strategy for implementing the opening up of businesses. Therefore, we have taken two days’ time.
“The central government should make short term, mid-term and long-term plans to keep things going amid the outbreak. I will speak on this with other states as well. The centre must cooperate with the states as this is not the time for doing politics,” she added.