The continuing saga of the acrimony between West Bengal Government and the Centre took another turn for the worse today after Union Home Minister Amit Shah sent a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, expressing his dismay over the state government stonewalling efforts by the Centre to facilitate transportation of migrant labourers back to their home state of West Bengal.
“Central government has facilitated more than two lakh migrants to reach home. Migrants from West Bengal are also eager to reach home. Central govt is facilitating but we are not getting the expected support from West Bengal,” wrote Amit Shah in a letter to Mamata Banerjee.
Amit Shah further added in his letter that the state government was not allowing trains to enter West Bengal.
“This is injustice with West Bengal migrant labourers. This will create further hardship for them,” he wrote.
This is the latest instance of allegations and counter-allegations via letters has been going on since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, wherein the Centre has accused the West Bengal government of covering up deaths related to the virus and strategies that are counterproductive to containing the virus.
The West Bengal government, on the other hand, called the Centre’s recommendations to the state, another politically motivated move aimed at showing the Mamata-led government in poor light. Derek O’Brien in a video conference termed the efforts of the Home Ministry created Inter-Ministerial Central team, formed to assist states in their fight against Covid-19, an attempt at spreading “political virus” in the state.
The IMCT team leader for Kolkata and Howrah, Apurva Chandra had earlier in his letters to West Bengal alleged an attempt to block his team’s efforts in the state and had also called for greater transparency in the state’s fight against Covid-19. The IMCT also questioned the COVID-19 death panels formed by West Bengal which under-reported the deaths caused by the virus, which later prompted a revision of the death toll.
As per the Ministry of Health’s latest numbers, West Bengal has one of the worst mortality rates due to COVID-19 in the country, with 160 deaths and 1,678 active cases.