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The 'humble submission' made by Mamata Banerjee

Excerpts from the chief minister’s opening remarks at Nabanna on Saturday evening
Mamata Banerjee on Saturday.

Compiled By Meghdeep Bhattacharyya   |   Calcutta   |   Published 15.06.19, 07:16 PM

You heard from the chief secretary that an unfortunate incident, after it took place on the night of June 10, the government has continuously persisted with the process in various ways so that it is properly resolved.

The first night when the incident took place, the morning after, minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya was sent, when she was seated there – you know there was the programme for Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar (at Hare School on June 11) – I told her, give the phone to the agitated doctors, I will speak to them directly. She told me, they don’t want to speak. I did not bring up this insult then before you (the media). We have been trying from the very next day.

The next day, went like that. We kept appealing. Appeals did not work. We were told to issue an appeal and that would work, so we did that asking them to please rejoin work, especially for the poor masses, those who cannot afford (private) healthcare. Thousands today are stranded with no treatment. Midnapore, Murshidabad, people have died with no treatment.

Doctors are our pride, they can give people life. Today those who are losing children, or are stranded with sick people in the family, only they can understand the extent of their suffering…. You know I went to PG (SSKM) myself. I would not have gone, I was going to Nabanna, but I got word about a patient who was intensely suffering in the absence of treatment and could die any minute, there was a request to resume services at the Emergency. That’s what I had gone to see.

When I went in, the agitating doctors who were seated creating an obstruction there, I was walking through them. A lot of you (the media) have done a lot of distortion, you did not let people know the truth. When I walking, I was pushed, ultopalta (untoward) comments were passed, shouting, yelling, osrabyo (derogatory) things were said. Despite that, I told police not to arrest anybody. They are young, they made a mistake, let them be, I forgive them. Had this same thing taken place elsewhere, a lot of action would have been initiated.

I still think the senior doctors – a lot of them came since yesterday – I greatly respect them. They told me, so I kept waiting for five hours, so that the junior doctors come to talk to me. Sure, let them come, I will speak to them. I did not make a sentimental issue out of it, despite such misbehaviour. Yesterday, five hours, but they said they would come today instead.

On Saturdays, I usually do other kinds of work, I had programmes too. I cancelled everything – to honour Sukumarda and other seniors – so that the issue is resolved, I came today. not just me, the chief secretary, the additional chief secretary (health), principal secretary, (commissioner of police) Anuj Sharma, Chandrima, (finance minister) Amit Mitra, we all came here for this. We waited for them. So that there is a solution.

See, whenever there is a strike or a protest, it is a delegation that comes to meet. That is what we had sought. Who all were going to come was their matter. Eloi na! (They did not come at all!)

Two days were given. They did not come to talk. The senior doctors, really, they tried their best. Even yesterday, you saw, the entire medical fraternity I appealed to in an open letter. The entire medical fraternity, nobody was left out, the appeal was to the entire family. An incident took place, we are taking every action, please rejoin work. This government is not negative. This government has not behaved negatively with anybody yet.

For your information – we are not going for such action – there is a Supreme Court verdict that the medical council can cancel registrations. In 2008, Odisha, the BJD government, when doctors threatened strike, they evoked the Esma, leaders were made to resign, documented facts. In 2009, Gujarat, the (Narendra) Modi state government, junior doctors’ strike was crushed through Esma, not only that, 150 doctors were arrested. In 2015, the AAP government in Delhi, acted against a doctors’ strike through Esma. In 2016, the AAP government in Delhi, Esma for a nurses’ strike. In 2017, the BJP government in Rajasthan, Esma was evoked against a day’s leave by the doctors. In 2017, the BJP government had evoked Esma for six months over a twohour stoppage of the OPD. In 2018, in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDPBJP allied government, doctors got threatened with Esma over a strike call. In 2018, Manipur, Esma was threatened…. Around 10 states have used Esma to take action. In Tamil Nadu, internship was extended for such reasons…. It is a service, a great service to the people. But only because we believe in democracy and humanity, despite 56 days passing, we have not initiated any such action, no Esma, no registration cancellation, no arrests, no action against the agitators. But for how much longer?

I continue to, through you, appeal to the junior doctors – political reasons, provocations at play – I don’t blame them. They decided yesterday they would come. Today they said no. Who told them to do this? I would still say this should be resolved peacefully. They are always welcome to come and talk, the doors to talking it out are always open.

Nabanna is the state secretariat, a constitutional place, it is an honour to be asked to come here. The government is constitutional. This is the seat of the government. The government is inviting you to talks, you are saying you won’t come. Sometimes you have to accord respect to constitutional bodies also. When I am trying to talk, you are saying no. You will decide where the government will sit – the government secretariat is the best possible place – don’t you think, constitutionally, the government headquarters is the best place, the highest place to talk? I am sorry they did not turn up. But again I appeal to them. Please join the service, service must be restored for the people. The people are suffering without treatment, for five days, six days. We have not applied Esma, what the 910 other states have already applied. We never arrested a single person (from the agitators), who even humiliated me. We never arrested anybody from the doctors, who are threatening other people also. Not all, a few. We have not taken any action. I am not going to take any police action (against the agitators).

Again we will request them. We waited, waited, waited. If you think that I am not capable of listening to you, you can talk to the governor, I have no problem. If you think I am not capable, you can talk to the chief secretary, I have no problem. You can talk to the (senior) doctors, I have no problem. Health service cannot continue like this. Some people are provoking, they should know this, how the government is trying. How the government, with the human touch, is tolerating all these things for six days.

Again, I will appeal through all the media, myself, the chief secretary, the police commissioner, other ministers, secretaries, all of us are requesting. My letter of appeal is already out there. Please restore normalcy. Start the service for the people. My humble submission to them. I am not going to take any stringent action (against the agitators), though we have everything with us. Let good sense prevail. This is my submission.

Thank you so much. If you have any questions, you can ask me…. But please remember one thing, don’t provoke. Let the matter be settled. We don’t want any provocation. The press, the media, I request you, for the sake of poor people, for the common man – it can happen in any other state, there also people will suffer – don’t think you can play with fire in Bengal, every state has problems like this. If, in every state, this spreads where will the patients go?

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