Amid bickering in TMC, BJP punches holes in Abhishek Banerjee’s Covid-19 data

On January 8, barely days before the Ganga Sagar fair started in South 24 Parganas; Banerjee held meetings with the district’s bureaucrats and doctors and said in public that he personally felt that all religious festivals and the coming civic body elections should be put on hold for two months.
TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee also announced some measures, including extensive testing of samples and setting up of control rooms, health check-up camps and isolation facilities in his constituency of Diamond Harbour in Bengal’s South 24 Parganas . (PTI PHOTO.)
TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee also announced some measures, including extensive testing of samples and setting up of control rooms, health check-up camps and isolation facilities in his constituency of Diamond Harbour in Bengal’s South 24 Parganas . (PTI PHOTO.)
Published on Jan 17, 2022 08:27 PM IST
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The special Covid-19 management drive started on January 8 in Trinamool Congress (TMC) national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee’s Lok Sabha constituency of Diamond Harbour in Bengal’s South 24 Parganas has triggered a political tussle with opposition parties accusing CM Mamata Banerjee, who is also in charge of the health department, of ignoring the state’s remaining 41 constituencies.

“Diamond Harbour parliamentary constituency does it again. Despite its close proximity with Ganga Sagar and Kolkata, Diamond Harbour parliamentary constituency maintains positivity rate of below 3%,” a post on Abhishek Banerjee’s Facebook page said on Monday afternoon.

The post appeared hours after the West Bengal health department said in its Covid-19 bulletin that Bengal had registered a positivity rate of 27.73 % on Sunday.

On January 8, barely days before the Ganga Sagar fair started in South 24 Parganas; Banerjee held meetings with the district’s bureaucrats and doctors and said in public that he personally felt that all religious festivals and the coming civic body elections should be put on hold for two months in the interest of public safety.

Banerjee also announced some measures, including extensive testing of samples and setting up of control rooms, health check-up camps and isolation facilities in his constituency.

While a section of TMC leaders projected this as the “Diamond Harbour model” in Bengal’s battle against the pandemic, Abhishek Banerjee announced on January 12 that 53,202 samples were tested in his constituency on that day and only 1151 people tested positive, marking a positivity rate of 2.16%.

“We will leave NO STONE UNTURNED in our quest to make Diamond Harbour PC #COVID-19 free. Your well-being will always be our top priority!” he tweeted.

The West Bengal health department, on the other hand, said in its daily health bulletin that 71,792 samples were tested on January 12 in entire Bengal and the positivity rate was 30.86 %.

On Saturday, when the West Bengal Election Commission postponed the polls in four civic body areas from January 22 to February 12, Banerjee welcomed the decision.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile, has launched a scathing attack on the TMC. “If both, the West Bengal health department run by Mamata Banerjee and data put out by Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee for January 12 are correct, then Bengal tested 18,589 people across 41 Lok Sabha constituencies of which 21,004 tested positive! 113% positivity rate. Is Mamata downsizing Abhishek?” Amit Malviya, national head of the BJP information technology and social media cell tweeted on Sunday.

Posting the official figures, Malviya, who is also co-in-charge of the party’s Bengal unit, wrote: “As per Abhishek Banerjee, he did 53,203 Covid-19 tests in a single day (January 12) in his Diamond Harbour constituency out of whom 1,151 turned out to be positive. But West Bengal Govt Health Bulletin says 71,792 tests done on that day across the state out of whom 22,155 were positive. So that means only 71,792-53,203 that is 18,589 tests done across remaining 41 constituencies out of whom 22,155-1151 that is 21,004 tests were found to be positive.”

“21,004 positives out of 18,589 tests done. Unbelievable 113% test positivity rate across rest of West Bengal, if both the data furnished by Abhishek Banerjee and Govt of West Bengal health dept run by Mamata Banerjee are correct,” Malviya added.

The BJP Bengal unit sharpened their attack against the ruling Trinamool Congress once again on Monday.

“If the figures are to be believed then Abhishek Banerjee should be made the chief minister. Mamata Banerjee must step down for failing to protect people in the remaining 41 Lok Sabha constituencies,” said Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar.

Incidentally, the focus on Diamond Harbour has triggered an adverse reaction among some senior TMC leaders as well.

Statements that Kalyan Banerjee, the Lok Sabha member from Srirampur in Hooghly district, has been making since Thursday indicate that he is unwilling to accept the focus on Diamond Harbour.

“Why talk about Diamond Harbour? We know only Mamata Banerjee. She is our supreme leader,” Kalyan Banerjee said on Friday.

On Monday, posters, demanding a new MP for Srirampur, appeared in parts of Hooghly district. Kalyan Banerjee refused to comment on the posters.

Taking a swipe at the TMC, BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said, “It seems Kalyan Banerjee has got to know that he will not be fielded in 2024. The epicentre of power in the TMC is shifting.”

Madan Mitra, the TMC legislator from Kamarhati, also expressed his dissatisfaction.

On Saturday, he said there was no way party leaders can meet or talk to Abhishek Banerjee. “He is never available at his office,” Mitra said in a social media post.

TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee stepped in on Saturday.

“As head of the party’s disciplinary committee I am asking all leaders to refrain from making adverse remarks in public. If anyone has any grievance, he should raise it at internal meetings,” Chatterjee said.

Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called the rumblings “a circus”.

“Kalyan Banerjee could not have made these remarks spontaneously. He must be having tacit support from Mamata Banerjee. We know that there are differences between the chief minister and her nephew on several issues,” Chowdhury said.

TMC Rajya Sabha member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy refused to give any importance to the BJP’s campaign on the Covid-19 tests done in Diamond Harbour.

“Let BJP leaders work on the mathematics they have learnt in their school of politics. It makes no difference to us,” said Roy.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2022