The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Medical panel clash divides doctors

The battlelines have been drawn, with two groups of doctors on collision course.

The Calcutta chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA) has filed a case against its state counterpart, challenging the election rules framed 15 years ago by the Bengal branch. On Saturday, IMA joint secretary (headquarters) and former secretary of IMA Calcutta branch R.D. Dubey will be summoned at the state headquarters to explain his “anti-Bengal branch outbursts”.

The signs of a showdown became apparent ever since the city branch lodged a case at Alipore court, challenging the election rules ratified by the all-India body years ago. The rules allow one voting right to a 15-member doctor team, three votes for a 50-member unit, four votes for a 100-member unit and six votes for a 300-member unit.

As a result, the Calcutta wing — despite being the single largest unit with 1,750 members — puts up a dismal show in the elections, as all the district units combined pull more votes on paper. “This is a ploy to ensure that we lose, but now we have managed to break even. Several district units have joined hands with us and we will surely turn the tables in the next election,” said Dubey. Now, the Calcutta branch wants to frame new voting rules.

IMA Bengal branch secretary Moloy Patra is, however, unperturbed by Dubey’s stand as the rules had been ratified by the all India body. “Going to court against this would mean an open defiance of the all-India body’s decision,” he asserted.

A split in the Bengal branch of the IMA became evident after several dissident groups from the districts joined the anti-government campaigns staged by the Calcutta chapter. Last week, representatives of IMA Bengal-controlled district units, including Asansol, Durgapur east, Baruipur, Kamarhati, Dum Dum, Behala and Tollygunge, joined a rally called by the city wing, despite the state branch’s opposition.

On Wednesday, Patra drew up a list of dissident members to be showcaused for their actions. These doctors might even lose their memberships. “The number of such doctors is not large. They will be asked to explain their decision to disobey orders,” Patra said.

The fissures in the Bengal body surfaced when the Bengal branch on Tuesday called off a strike at Burdwan, after five persons were arrested in connection with the assault on local gynaecologist Suprakash Bhattacharya.

“It is unfortunate that they (Bengal branch members) called off the strike. We were preparing for a bigger showdown with the government. Several of their members have expressed their displeasure, too,” said Dubey.

IMA state branch office-bearers, including Patra, have trashed Dubey’s allegations as baseless. “We had threatened to continue our strike if the government failed to arrest the culprits. But when they have listened to us, why should we continue with the strike' We should think about people as well,” Patra added.

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