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TMC, BJP blame game over spiralling Covid-19 cases

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on April 19, 2021

Mamata Banerjee   -  PTI

Mamata reiterates her demand on clubbing phases 6,7 and 8 into one or two phases

The ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition, BJP were embroiled in a war-of-words blaming each other even as Covid-19 cases spiralled in the State.

Active cases in West Bengal, as on April 18 was touching the 50,000-mark with 18 out of every 100 samples testing positive.

The West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, has ruled out the immediate possibility of a lockdown; while blaming the massive rallies being organised by the BJP and a long-drawn eight-phase elections with entry of outsiders in the State as a reason for spurt in infections.

On Monday afternoon at Malda — where she is currently campaigning, Mamata Banerjee reiterated her demand on clubbing the remaining three phases of elections into one or two.

She claimed that medicines like Remdesivir were in short supply and alleged their diversion to other States. The State was also facing a vaccine shortage, she added.

“I cannot announce a lockdown. It is not the immediate solution and neither can it be announced in such a random manner, without any planning. Buses and trains are plying. People from other States have come in here for campaigning. I cannot throw them out,” she said.

Curtailing campaigns

Banerjee said, her party will curtail campaigns in Kolkata (the worst affected district) restricting it to a symbolic one on April 26. This apart, speeches of the Chief Minister across meetings will be restricted to 30 minutes.

The Election Commission has already barred campaigns between 7 pm and 10 am, while extending the silent period before polls to 72 hrs.

“I have done enough and reduced campaigning. I can’t do more than this. I cannot talk of other political parties,” she said.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya put out a tweet saying that the PMO has asked organisers to ensure that Covid protocols such as maintaining social distancing norms, are followed at the PM’s rallies in Bengal.

Four more rallies of the Prime Minister (on April 23) is expected in the State.

War-of-words

As concerns mount over massive election rallies turning out to be super-spreader events contributing to the Covid-19 surge, Trinamool Congress put out tweets claiming there was blood on the Union Government’s hands because of rising Covid cases here and following intense campaigning by the Central BJP leadership.

Some senior Trinamool leaders also went on record blaming BJP for spurt in Covid cases here.

“Why didn’t you (PM) make plans to stop corona in the last six months?... You have to answer this. Prime Minister is responsible for second wave of Covid-19. If he would have taken responsible at right time then this wouldn’t have happened,” Banerjee alleged.

The BJP put the onus back on State’s ruling party.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law and IT, said the Centre was doing everything to tackle the contagion.

“The TMC is saying a lot of things about Covid management. Did Mamata-ji attend the meetings of all the Chief Ministers with the on Covid? The answer is no,” he said.

“Elections are a constitutional obligation undertaken by the Election Commission of India. We will follow all the guidelines given by the ECI. In Bihar, too, elections were held amid Covid. The only authority to decide on the process of elections is the Commission,” Prasad added.

Published on April 19, 2021

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