The BJP in West Bengal on Monday claimed that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who also holds the health portfolio, is not devoting enough time to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, and demanded appointment of a full-time health minister in the state.
In a letter to the CM, BJP president Dilip Ghosh suggested several measures to handle the crises of coronavirus outbreak and the devastation caused by cyclone Amphan, and demanded that those affected by the natural disaster be given financial aid and jobs through MNREGA.
Besides health, the chief minister has to look after several other departments and this is leading to neglect in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr Ghosh said in the letter.
“We propose that a full-time health minister be appointed who will deal with the crisis the state is facing in public health management since the chief minister is not devoting enough time to the crucial department,” the letter read.
Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Amphan-affected areas and immediate release of Rs 1,000 crore as ad hoc assistance to the state, Ghosh said the Mamata Banerjee government should provide Rs 2 lakh as compensation to the family of those who died in the cyclone and Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured.
“Every poor person affected by the cyclone be given Rs 1,000 each for the next three months. Money should be transferred directly to the bank accounts of the affected in order to keep the process of financial assistance free from corruption,” he said.
The BJP MP suggested that in all the cyclone-affected districts, proper arrangements should be made to ensure people get food, drinking water, safe shelter and medical assistance.
He demanded that people in those districts be tested for coronavirus infection and proper infrastructure be put in place for treating COVID-19 patients there.
Mr Ghosh said in the letter that pucca houses should be built under the PM Awas Yojana in cyclone-prone areas of the state so that people do not have to live in potentially dangerous mud houses.
Alleging that unscrupulous people were stealing food grains meant for the public distribution system in the state, he said, “We request you to take steps for reaching ration to the doorsteps of the poor families in West Bengal.”
“Though the state government has taken initiative for home delivery of liquor, but such steps have not been taken for reaching ration to the residences of the poor people,” the state BJP president claimed.
Taking up the issue of migrant workers which has led to a verbal duel between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP, he demanded that state government ensure that entrepreneurs in the MSME sector get easy loans to create more jobs so that workers who have returned do not need to leave the state again.
The BJP leader demanded that investment be made in self-help groups to ensure that women workers become an important part in the state’s economy.
He also asked for a Rs 3,000 relief package for all small-time traders, hawkers and transport workers so that they are able to overcome their financial problems owing to the closure of business during the lockdown.
He also sought waiver of duty on electricity bills in the MSME sector for two months to help these make a turnaround.
Mr Ghosh, however, thanked the chief minister for ramping up corona tests and discarding an audit committee that had been set up by her government to review the cause of the death COVID-19 patients.
He demanded that the Trinamool Congress government introduce PM Kisan Yojana and Ayushman Bharat Yojana in the state, claiming: “These will save Rs 3,131 crore from the state Budget that can be used for turning around West Bengal’s economy.”