After the fifth virtual meeting between the Chief Ministers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has launched a scathing attack on the Central government. The Chief Minister has stated that there have been several video conferences earlier and the state gave several suggestions, but found no remedies. Mamata has also called out the Centre for shifting the blame and responsibility on states without taking any lead.
During the COVID meeting with the Prime Minister which reportedly was aimed at discussing an exit strategy amid the lockdown, Mamata Banerjee stated that her administration has followed Centre's instructions throughout and since desired results haven't been achieved, the Centre can shift the onus on states. Quashing all allegations, she stated that Bengal is welcoming its people stranded in different states and is all facilitating return of those stranded in Bengal. "More than 1 lakh people have already come to Bengal," she informed and added that if the Central Government fails to pay for the return of migrants, the state administration will bear the cost.
The TMC supremo has also questioned the extension of lockdown and its need citing that the government is opening almost everything. She pointed out the contradiction between lockdown orders on one hand and relaxing everything gradually and urged that the states should be allowed to take a call on what can be allowed and what not. Mamata Banerjee also apprised the Prime Minister of the COVID situation in Bengal and stated that there are 1,374 active cases and 185 deaths so far. She informed that the state has increased the number of testing labs and the testing has doubled from 2000 to 4000 per day in a week.
Furthermore, Mamata Banerjee highlighted the outstanding funds yet to be released by the Centre which amounts to Rs 53,000 crores and urged the government for another financial package which at least 6% of the GDP. She appealed for an immediate moratorium on repayment of loans and interests by the state government to be extended by a year and the permit for states to directly borrow from the RBI. She also placed the following requests with PM Modi:
1. Government of India (GoI) to ensure regular wages to tea garden workers
2. GoI to ensure regular wages to the jute mill workers
3. Special package for workers of the unorganised sector and MSMEs
4. Release of Central Grants pertaining to Centrally sponsored schemes for 2020-21
5. Immediate release of FRBM limit for FY 2020-21 from 3% to 5%
6. Finance Commission should be requested to review its recommendations in the context of COVID-19 pandemic