PM Modi should resign owning responsibility for COVID-19

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surge, failed in prior planning to combat crisis: Mamata (Eds: Changing intro, adding fresh inputs and collating other stories in this series) Barrackpore/ Krishnanagar/Gaighata/ Tehatta (WB), Apr 18 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modis resignation for mishandling the COVID-19 second wave and alleged he had failed in prior planning to combat the medical crisis.

Asserting that Modi had done little to address the crisis in medical oxygen supplies and shortage of vaccines faced by states, she said the prime minister should have planned for the second wave of infections which have come now in the months after the first peak in September subsided.

Banerjee, speaking at the cantonment town of Barrackpore, also accused Modi of exporting vaccines to other countries to boost his image in the international arena while there was a scarcity in his own country.

'For the rise in COVID-19 cases PM Modi should resign.

He is the man responsible for the present situation. He did not plan in time for (the crisis in) 2021. Look at the situation in Gujarat.

'The BJP cannot tackle the COVID-19 spike even in Gujarat, and has brought the entire country, including West Bengal, to such a pass,' the TMC supremo said.

Highlighting that the West Bengal government had asked for 5.4 crore doses of vaccine from the prime minister for vaccinating every citizen of the state free of cost, the chief minister said, 'we are yet to get any response from him'.

West Bengal would have borne the entire cost of the COVID-19 vaccines, the chief minister said.

'I will send a strong letter to the PM today on this issue. There is shortage of oxygen and anti-viral drug Remdesivir in the entire country. Who is responsible for this? Had they (central government) given us the consent, we would have been able to vaccinate every resident of the state,' she asserted.

'The crisis in life saving materials has also been flagged by the Maharashtra government. But without attending to these issue you (Modi) are attending election rallies in Bengal,' she said.

The prime minister had on Saturday said that Banerjee had skipped meetings he held ith chief ministers on the Covid situation.

Banerjee added she is in constant touch with the chief secretary and health secretary about the covid situation and it has been decided to increase the number of beds in Covid hospitals and to appoint nodal officers to handle the crisis in each district.

Accusing Modi of exporting vaccines to 80 countries, even as India faced shortages, the chief minister said 'we have no problem if you help others in the world, but first give it to Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, and other states of the country. You failed to do so and was only concerned about your image-building exercise in the global community.' Earlier in the day, at a rally at Tehatta, the chief minister had accused BJP leaders of bringing 'outsiders' to assist them in their campaigning, without COVID-19 tests, and held this influx responsible for the increase in coronavirus cases in the state.

'For instance, while my pandals are being made by local workers, the PM's, Shah's pandals are being erected by people from Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand and other states, she said.

Besides the chief minister claimed, thousands of BJP activists have come from outside and have checked into guest houses and hotels in the 'run up to polling days and as voting started.' She had also blamed the Election Commission (EC) for curtailing her campaigning time, by five days while turning a blind eye to her plea to club the last three phases of the polls to contain the surge in infections.

West Bengal on Saturday had recorded the highest single day spike in infections at 7,713, taking the total number of infections till date to over 6.5 lakh.

'Leaders from Delhi are bringing in outsiders infected with the virus during campaigning without bothering to conduct COVID-19 tests.

'I am not saying being infected with the virus is a crime. But the reckless act of the BJP has triggered the sudden rise in the number of coronavirus cases in recent times,' the chief minister said.

Claiming that a BJP candidate in Howrah district went on campaigning despite being infected by the virus, Banerjee asked 'Why couldn't he sit at home and desist from campaigning?' 'Our party never takes such a risk,' she added.

At Krishnanagar, the CM called upon central forces 'not to threaten and intimidate people on instructions from the BJP but to follow their conscience and work impartially in a fair manner.' She said the concerned central policemen responsible for the Sitalkuchi firing, would have to come back and answer charges framed in first information reports on the incident.

Later at a rally in Barrackpore, Banerjee accused the BJP MP of stockpiling bombs during the last elections and wondered 'if Modi is aware of his activities.' PTI SUS MM JRC JRC