Principal Opposition parties in Bengal have again united against the ruling dispensation over the outbreak of dengue, with the threat of a number of protest programmes in the final leg of political activities before the usual Durga Puja-Bhai Phonta lull.
The BJP will launch a weeklong protest from Wednesday in front of municipalities and health offices across Bengal to attack the alleged failure of the Mamata Banerjee government in tackling the surge of dengue cases in a bid to intensify political pressure.
“The state government has totally failed to prevent dengue in the state. Our party activists and leaders from youth, teachers, and doctors’ wings will launch protests in front of each of the municipalities and state government-run health offices across the state for the next seven days,” said the BJP’s chief spokesperson in the state Samik Bhattacharya.
Sources said the ploy of the BJP to attack the government on health issues is significant at a time when the state is on the back-foot.
The BJP often tries to pitch health issues or the government’s alleged failure to manage public health as a political issue against Trinamul as the chief minister is also the state’s health minister.
A source in the health department said the dengue situation became a challenge for the state government after a spike in the number of the positive cases in the past three weeks. Although the state health department did not bring out any official data on dengue-positive cases, a source said the number has already crossed 40,000.
The situation is the worst in Murshidabad, Nadia, Calcutta, North and South 24-Parganas.
“It is the right time to corner the state government over a serious issue like Dengue. After a meeting with senior leaders, the party had finally fixed a proper line of protest for the next seven days” said a BJP leader.
The announcement of the weeklong protest by the saffron camp came on a day when a delegation of BJP MLAs headed by leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari was allegedly prevented from meeting the officials in Swasthya Bhavan, the state health department headquarters, to submit a memorandum over the state’s failure in controlling the vector-borne disease.
“The state government did not send data on Dengue cases even to the Union health ministry. The state government is hiding data and directing the doctors not to maintain dengue as the reason for death if anyone dies of the disease,” said Adhikari, adding that his party wants to let the people of Bengal know about the current situation of dengue in the state.
Trinamul criticised the BJP’s protest drive, asking saffron leaders to join awareness campaigns in the concerned areas, instead of wasting time with politics over the public health-related issue.
“The BJP has been trying to make the Dengue a political issue in the state. At a time when people are suffering from vector-borne diseases, the BJP leaders should participate in the campaign drive instead of this politics. The state government has taken all possible measures and the situation is under control,” said Trinamul state general-secretary Kunal Ghosh.
The Congress and the CPM too criticized the Bengal government over the rise in the number of dengue cases.
The Youth Congress on Tuesday agitated in front of Calcutta Municipal Corporation and submitted a deputation demanding proper measures to control dengue in the city and the state.
“We will wait for the next few days and will launch a greater movement if the state government’s failure to arrest the Degnue continues,” said Azhar Mallick, the state youth Congress chief.