Junior doctors feel pulse live
Cheers and howls filled the auditorium of the NRS Medical College and Hospital, where doctors had gathered to watch the live telecast of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s address at Nabanna.
The audience erupted when Mamata said: “Why should I slap a case on you?”. This was the loudest roar during the interaction that lasted an hour and a half.
The chief minister’s remark came after health secretary Rajiva Sinha pointed out that one of the demands of the junior doctors was the unconditional withdrawal of cases.
Students started trooping into the auditorium around 3pm, after a bus with representatives of the junior doctors of all medical colleges left NRS for Nabanna at 3.10pm to attend the interaction with the chief minister.
The idea of live telecast was floated by a senior student. “We don’t trust the government. Let’s watch live,” he had said. A projector was hired and the facility set up in the auditorium.
The 400-seat auditorium was packed to capacity. The ground floor occupied, the students walked up to the first floor to reach the upper tier.
A television was also set up at the main gate, the seat of agitation, so that other students could watch the proceedings.
As the doctors waited for the live telecast to begin, the discussion revolved around the protest and what the doctors should extract from the administration.
“We cannot take the trouble of holding general body meetings any longer. We have to extract something from the administration,” a group of three students was heard discussing among themselves.
The audience cheered Mamata when she spoke about the need to install a collapsible gate at the entrance to the emergency ward so that only two persons could accompany each patient.
The poor acoustics of the auditorium prompted some doctors to watch the proceedings on their mobile phones.
When Archisman Bhattacharya, one of the 31 junior doctor representatives, told Mamata they didn’t look at the surnames of patients, the entire auditorium reverberated with loud cheers and applause. Many hugged each other.
“Manoniyake mukher opor bolte perechhe kathata (He could tell this to her face),” one of the doctors was overheard telling another.
The junior doctors had been holding a grudge ever since Mamata, during her visit to SSKM Hospital last Thursday, accused junior doctors of looking at the surnames of patients.
“Please ask her why she did not bother to pay us a visit at NRS,” the doctors in the audience cried out as the faces of their representatives beamed on the screen.
Coincidentally, a few minutes later, one of the representatives did the raise the point. Mamata replied: “Let me decide where I go.” Murmurs of disapproval followed in the auditorium.
The mood brightened again when the chief minister said she considered doctors to be gods. “Doctors’ fraternity, we are proud of you,” she said. The auditorium erupted into thunderous applause. Many whistled together.
“Tomra aamar lakkhi chhele. Tomra aar juddho korbe na (you are my dear children. Please don’t fight anymore),” said Mamata towards the end of her speech, much to the amusement of her audience. As Mamata said she would meet Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, one of the assaulted doctors, a junior doctor exclaimed: “At least we could make her visit the Institute of Neurosciences (where Mukhopadhyay is being treated).”