The BJP leaders in West Bengal termed the state government’s decision to announce partial restrictions due rise in Covid-19 cases as “unscientific” and blamed the TMC administration’s “callous attitude” for the recent surge in infection.
The partial restrictions to contain the virus from spreading will be applicable from January 3.
Under the new guidelines, all schools, colleges, Spas, salons, beauty parlours, zoos, and entertainment parks in the state will be closed once again. Also, functioning of shopping malls, market complexes, restaurants, and bars will now be allowed with only 50 per cent of their total capacity.
Most importantly, local trains in all sections will run with 50 per cent capacity till 7pm. All tourist places shall remain closed and all religious, cultural, and social meetings will be allowed with 50 people only.
There will be no flights from the United Kingdom and domestic flights to Kolkata from Delhi and Mumbai will only be allowed on Monday and Friday (only two days a week).
Soon after the restrictive measures were announced, state BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya called the decision ‘unscientific’.
Addressing a press conference, he said, “The state government has completely failed in handling the situation. This government welcomed the coronavirus in our state by encouraging picnics, parties and get together from December 25 to January 1. We oppose the restricted movement of local trains till 7 PM only. The poor people/working class are already suffering from the consequences of COVID-19. Now the state government has imposed restrictions on local train movement with 50 per cent capacity. The ruling party is creating more problems for the poor. How will people travel with so much restrictions? How will they go home if there won’t be any train service after 7pm?”
“The state government is only concerned about bars and restaurants. This is because a good amount of revenue goes to the state government. I would like to question why local trains are allowed to run till 7 pm while bars and restaurants are open till 10 pm. Due to the restrictive movement, the TMC union which controls the auto-rickshaw drivers is increasing fare as per their wish. We want the state government to shed its ego and work jointly with the central government in handling the situation,” he added.
Coming down heavily on the State government’s decision, Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari tweeted, “Nabanna made Covid surge: Christmas celebration ✓New Year celebration ✓ TMC Foundation Day celebration ✓@egiye_bangla ; as the name suggests always ahead in disaster & public health mismanagement. Ultimately the public is forced to sacrifice livelihood with curbs that follow.”
TMC MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy welcomed the decision and claimed that it will bring down the number of cases in the State.
Speaking to News18.com, he said, “The BJP leaders should not give us lectures on what we should do to curb the crisis. Even during the first lockdown, we have seen how most of their leaders went inside their house due to fear. Then, it was only our leader Mamata Banerjee who decided to reach out to the people in their locality and personally aware people about the do’s and don’t on COVID-19. Whatever decision we have taken is based on expert advice.”
CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty also hit out at Mamata Banerjee and blamed her for rising COVID-19 cases in Bengal.
He said, “They state government is doing drama in the name of imposing restrictions. First, they allowed people to party and celebrate and now they are imposing restrictions. They should have imposed the curb much before. Our chief minister went to Allen Park to inaugurate the Kolkata Christmas Festival at Park Street. Then, she went to Ganga Sagar to supervise the preparation for the ‘Ganga Sagar Mela’ (fair). What is going on in Bengal?”
Medicine Expert Dr Arindam Biswas at the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences suggested that everybody follow ‘self-lockdown’ (unless urgent) to stay protected from the virus.
“For the coming couple of months, we have to take utmost care and only in case of emergency one can go outside. Using a mask of above five years of age is mandatory. I would like to request parents to avoid taking new born babies out to their relatives or public places (except for vaccination). If we follow the safety norms, then only we will be able to win over the situation. The state should also keep special attention on orphanage homes and elderly care centres in providing all support to protect them from infection,” he added.