West Bengal Doctor's Strike: Open for talks with CM Mamata Banerjee
By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 16, Jun 2019, 8:50 am IST | UPDATED: 16, Jun 2019, 8:50 am IST
Kolkata: Hours after turning down an invite for a closed-door meeting with Mamata Banerjee saying there was no honest effort on her part to break the deadlock, the agitating doctors in West Bengal on Saturday night finally said they are ready to end their stir and are open for talks with the Chief Minister. However, it would be the doctors who would decide on the venue of the meeting later.
Late last night, the joint forum of junior doctors held a press conference their meeting. The spokesperson said, "We are open for dialogue always. If the chief minister extends one hand we will extend 10 of ours... we are eagerly waiting to break the deadlock." The agitating doctors said they would wait for their governing body to decide on the proposed venue for the meeting.
The spokesperson had earlier in the night said, "We are eagerly waiting to start our duty, but from the chief minister's side there is no such honest initiative to find a solution (of the ongoing problem)."
After saying there were no honest effort being made on CM's part, the agitating junior doctors also rubbished her claims that a few of their colleagues visited her at the state secretariat.
Meanwhile, accepting all the demands of the doctors, Banerjee, during a press conference at the state secretariat yesterday, had urged the agitators to resume work. " We have accepted all demands of agitating doctors; ready to accept more, but they must rejoin service," the CM had said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to the state government seeking a report on the stir on Saturday. However, reacting sharply to it, CM Banerjee said such advisory should be "sent to states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat where several murders are reported since the last couple of years". She also hit back saying her state was peaceful.
Bengal Governor K N Tripathi wrote to Banerjee advising her to take immediate steps to provide security to the medicos and find out a solution to the impasse. Banerjee later said that she has spoken to the governor and apprised him about the steps taken by the state government to resolve the impasse.
She also said her government has not invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) even after five days of the strike by the junior doctors. "We have the laws, but we do not want to use them... We are not going to take any stringent action against any of the agitating junior doctors and hamper their career," she told a news conference after the agitators did not turn up for a meeting at 5 pm.
The strike began on Monday night when two junior doctors of NRS hospital were injured in an attack by relatives of a patient, who died. Banerjee said, on Friday, she "waited for the junior doctors for five hours. And today, I cancelled all my programmes for them. You must show some respect to the constitutional body".
On the mass resignation of the doctors across the state, she said it was not legally tenable. Earlier, Banerjee, while addressing the press at the state secretariat, left it midway, claiming that a few junior doctors have appeared there in order to meet her.
In its advisory, the MHA said it has received a number of representations from doctors, healthcare professionals and medical associations from different parts of the country for their safety and security in view of the strike in West Bengal.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence in the wake Bengal assault on junior doctors.
Patients in Delhi faced hardships for the second consecutive day as protest by doctors, in solidarity with their striking colleagues in Kolkata, spread to several government hospitals, which could not join a nationwide stir on June 14.
Doctors at the Centre-run Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital, and RML Hospital, and Delhi government's healthcare facilities such as GTB Hospital, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital and DDU Hospital, boycotted work and held protests. However, emergency and ICU services were not hampered in these hospitals.
Meanwhile resident doctors of AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital, who resumed work after having boycotted it on Friday, have given a48-hour ultimatum to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to meet the demands of the state's agitating doctors, failing which they said they would go on an indefinite strike.
They attended patients wearing helmets and bandages on forehead as a sign of protest. AIIMS resident doctors will also take out a candle march in the campus in the evening.
Oppn asks Mamata to apologise
The opposition BJP, CPI-M and Congress in Bengal lashed out at Banerjee "for not being serious in resolving the impasses over doctor's strike" and asked her to resolve the crisis and asked her to apologise to them.
The BJP, the Congress and the CPI(M) blamed Banerjee for the ongoing crisis in the state's health sector and accused her of being more interested in scoring political brownie points rather than diffusing the tension. "From the very beginning she was adamant. It is due to her arrogance and ego that the situation has snowballed into such a crisis. Had she been serious about resolving it, she should have apologised and accepted all the demands of the doctors, which are justified," BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said.