West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday claimed that her counterparts from various states “sat like puppets” at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the coronavirus situation in India and were not allowed to speak, The Indian Express reported.
“We are not bonded labourers,” the West Bengal chief minister was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “We feel insulted and humiliated.”
Banerjee added: “A dictatorship is going on. The prime minister is feeling so insecure that he did not even listen to the chief ministers. What is this fear about?”
The West Bengal chief minister asked why Modi invited her and her counterparts to the meeting if he did not want to hear them out, NDTV reported. “He let some district magistrates speak and insulted the chief ministers,” Banerjee alleged.
Banerjee said that the meeting was not “one-way communication, it was one-way humiliation”. “One nation, all humiliation,” she said, according to the news channel. The West Bengal chief minister claimed Modi did not even ask the chief ministers about the availability of oxygen, hospital beds and vaccine doses.
Banerjee said she wanted to ask for more vaccine doses for West Bengal but was not allowed to speak, according to India Today.
The West Bengal chief minister accused Modi of taking the coronavirus crisis lightly, The Indian Express reported. She also criticised him for continuing with the multi-crore Central Vista project amid the devastation caused by the second wave of the pandemic in India.
“Today the federal structure is being bulldozed,” she said, according to the newspaper. “The Centre has time to build massive buildings and statues but has no time to listen to the chief ministers. The country is at a critical juncture but the PM is so casual.”
Banerjee referred to the meeting chaired by Modi as “super flop”. “Delhi’s shahenshah [king of kings] is saying all is well when everyday people are dying,” she added.
At the meeting on Thursday, Modi directed district officials to collect data on the coronavirus strains affecting children. He also asked them to stop wastage of vaccine doses.
The massive second wave of the coronavirus has overwhelmed the health infrastructure in India. Several states are grappling with acute shortages of oxygen, vaccines and drugs. The Opposition has consistently criticised the Centre for the way it was handling the health crisis.
India recorded 2,76,110 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total count of infections to 2,57,72,440 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The country’s toll rose to 2,87,122 as it registered 3,874 deaths in the last day.
India’s count of active cases stood at 31,29,878 while the number of recoveries reached 2,23,55,440.