West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday accused the Centre of playing politics over the coronavirus response and discriminating between states during the virtual meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Claiming that the Centre was working according to a script, she said, "This is not the time to play politics. Nobody ever asks our opinion… Don't bulldoze the federal structure," sources quoted her as saying at the meeting.
The BJP-ruled central government and the TMC government in Bengal have been at loggerheads over the handling of the crisis, first over the counting of deaths in the state and now over bringing back migrant workers stranded in other regions.
The Centre had sent two Inter-Ministerial Central Teams to the state to check on its Covid-19 efforts, and on Saturday union home minister Amit Shah wrote Banerjee and said not allowing trains to bring back migrant workers was injustice.
"When we are cooperating with you, why are you attacking us? Why is it always Bengal, Bengal, Bengal ? Why criticise?" she asked, and appealed to everyone to come forward and work together in fighting the crisis.
Underscoring the federal structure, Banerjee asked the Centre to talk to states before ending the lockdown and allowing resumption of other services.
Banerjee on Monday also asked for a special economic package from the Centre during the videoconference session. The meeting was held between the PM and Chief Ministers of different states to review the ground situation across India in the third phase of the nationwide lockdown.
According to the sources, apart from the special economic package for Bengal, Banerjee sought central assistance to bring back all migrant labourers from Bengal stranded in various parts of the country.