West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced the formation of a policy-making body to assist the state government in preparing a plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and added that Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee would be one of the members, PTI reported. The state has a total of 80 Covid-19 patients, and three among them have died, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“Our government will form a Global Advisory Committee for Covid-19 response policy in [the] state,” Banerjee said at a press conference, according to Hindustan Times. “Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will be a part of the committee.”
Last month, Abhijit Banerjee and fellow Nobel awardee Esther Duflo had suggested nine steps to help India deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
At the press conference, the chief minister also hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party after the party’s Information Technology cell chief Amit Malviya accused her administration of not revealing the complete figures related to the pandemic, PTI reported.
Earlier in the day, in a series of tweets, Malviya accused the West Bengal government of not releasing medical bulletins on the coronavirus and asked what Mamata Banerjee had been hiding. “No medical bulletin from the Bengal government on 2nd, 3rd and 5th Apr [April],” he wrote on Twitter. Curiously, number of Covid-related deaths missing in the bulletin released on 4th.”
Malviya also alleged that hospitals in West Bengal had been pressured to under-report coronavirus figures. “Hospital administrations across Bengal are under pressure from Mamata Banerjee, who is also the health minister, to underplay Covid-related cases by discouraging tests and thwarting doctors from writing coronavirus as a reason for deaths, despite positive reports, in death certificates,” he said.
Responding to Malviya’s allegations at the press conference, Mamata Banerjee said that the BJP is spreading fake news to smear the state’s health department. “A political party’s IT cell is using fake news to malign West Bengal’s health department,” she said, according to PTI. “This is not the time for petty politics. We never pointed at the lacunae of the central government in dealing with the crisis.”
The chief minister also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his appeal to people to light candles in solidarity with India’s fight against the pandemic. “They [BJP] may be more interested in politics by clanging utensils and bursting crackers, but we are not,” she said.