The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM warning on hospitals

Calcutta, Oct. 31: A week after Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee set the tone, the CPM warned the Trinamul Congress and other Opposition parties of tough “political resistance” if they did not stop holding rallies and meetings in hospitals.

“We have seen how the Opposition parties try to create chaos and disrupt normal functioning of the already over-stretched hospitals,” said state CPM secretary Anil Biswas.

“They are politicising deaths and encouraging supporters to vandalise the institutions or beat up doctors and employees. If they think we are going to be mute spectators, they are mistaken. We are not so weak as to accept all this without resistance.”

Like the government a week ago, the CPM stepped in to act as a bulwark against the Opposition’s criticism of the beleaguered health minister, Surjya Kanta Mishra, in the wake of the rash of deaths and acts of negligence in hospitals across Bengal. “He is our health minister because we in the Left Front appointed him. And the front thinks he is doing his job well,” Biswas said.

Showing scant regard for the government directive against agitation inside hospitals, Trinamul supporters today shouted slogans and took out a procession inside the Salt Lake General Hospital. The protests against the state of healthcare continued for about an hour. Another group of Trinamul functionaries converged outside Writers’ Buildings violating prohibitory orders around 2 pm and shouted slogans demanding Mishra’s resignation. More than two dozen supporters of the party’s youth wing had to be arrested to disperse the mob.

However, Trinamul was not the only party defying the government. Sensing that Mamata Banerjee’s party was out to milk the issue of hospital deaths, Congress leader Somen Mitra said at Ranaghat, about 100 km from Calcutta, his party would not go by the government directive. “They cannot expect us not to do anything when the health system is on the brink of collapse,” Mitra said.

The CPM made light of the Opposition’s demand for an all-party meeting on the health system. “Is there any guarantee that Trinamul will attend such a meeting'” Biswas asked.

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