Senior leaders of the BJP have accused Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee of engaging in vindictive politics and making attempts to ensure that Prime Minister Modi’s appeal for ‘Janta Curfew‘ across India on Sunday is not successful in the state of West Bengal. The Prime Minister had made an appeal to the citizens of the country to observe a self-imposed curfew on Sunday between 7 am and 9 pm in the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. But the West Bengal government has issued a directive to distribute rice and potato in Schools on Sunday, triggering allegations that the Mamata Banerjee govt has decided to this just to defy the Prime Minister’s appeal.
The distribution of rice and potato under the Mid-Day Meal programme which was earlier slated to occur on the 23rd and 24th of March has now been preponed to Sunday in West Bengal. The distribution will clash with ‘Janta Curfew’ and hence, during the time when the Prime Minister urged people to remain within the confines of their homes, people will gather schools in order to collect the provisions allotted for them, while officials will also need to be out in schools to distribute the items.
Swapan Dasgupta, a Member of the Rajya Sabha, said, “The exercise, which could have been done Monday is aimed at subverting social distancing. This is vindictive politics.” The order he shared on Twitter, issued on the 21st of March, reads, “It has come to the notice of the undersigned (District Inspector of Schools, SE, Kolkata) that Higher Secondary Examinations are postponed for the present and I have received directions from Higher Authorities that The Hon’ble CM desires distribution of rice and potato from the Schools among Guardians from today by 10:00 pm and complete the rest within 22.03.2020 and send a report in prescribed format to the office of undersigned in every day by 3 pm.” The order also instructed all the HOI of Junior/High/Higher Secondary schools of Kolkata district to treat the matter as “very urgent”.
Amit Malviya, in charge of BJP’s social media team, has also shared an order by the District Inspector of Schools of Barrackpore Education District which urges the heads of all schools and Madarsa to ensure the “picking by Sunday” for “smooth distribution”. Malviya said, “All primary school teachers have been asked to report. It has been done just to spike the #JantaCurfew.”
Govt of Bengal has issued an order for distributing rice and potato in different schools on coming Sun, 22 Mar under the Mid Day meal program, earlier scheduled for 23-24 Mar. All primary school teachers have been asked to report. It has been done just to spike the #JantaCurfew. pic.twitter.com/MPyQaCaWj6— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) March 21, 2020
Dr. Anirban Ganguly, head of the Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation (SPMRF), shared another order to the same effect and stated, “In an unthinking & extremely retrograde move Govt of #WestBengal has issued an order (20.3.2020) for distributing rice & potato in different schools on Sunday, 22 March 2020 during the #JanataCurfew. All teachers (primary) have been asked to be present.”
Earlier, Mamata Banerjee had claimed that the Central Government was ‘creating coronavirus panic’ to ‘divert attention’ from the Delhi anti-Hindu riots. She had said “that some channels are hyping coronavirus to cover up the Delhi riots. It’s the disease people should not panic, it’s a concern worldwide… those dead in Delhi violence did not die in coronavirus, they were killed by BJP.”