Mamata takes oath as Chief Minister for the third consecutive term, announces new restrictions to combat COVID-19 crisis

Published : May 05, 2021 21:26 IST

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee greets Governor Jagdeep Dhankar after taking oath as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for the third consecutive time, on May 5. Photo: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI

Mamata Banerjee was sworn in as Chief Minister of West Bengal for the third consecutive term on May 5. The maverick supremo of the Trinamool Congress created a sensation in the recently concluded Assembly election by defying all odds and staging a massive victory against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) whose campaign was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Trinamool won 213 seats, two more than what it had won in 2016, against 77 by the BJP. Elections were held in only 292 of the 294 seats. In two constituencies they had to be postponed because of the death of two candidates. Mamata herself lost in Nandigram to former Trinamool heavyweight-turned-BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari.

After swearing Mamata in, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, referring to the post-poll violence, said, “Our first priority is we must bring an end to this senseless violence, horrendous violence that has affected society at large. Post-poll violence, if it is retributive, is antithetical to democracy. I am sure the Chief Minister on an urgent basis will take all steps to restore the rule of law.” While Mamata was being sworn in, senior leaders of the BJP, including party president J.P. Nadda and State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, were staging a protest not far from Raj Bhavan in central Kolkata, against the post-poll violence perpetrated on BJP workers allegedly by Trinamool activists.

Addressing a press conference soon after her swearing in Mamata said her first priority is tackling the COVID-19 crisis. She announced a new set of restrictions — the movement of local trains has been suspended; only 50 per cent of public transport and metro services will be available; factories and tea gardens will have to work with 50 per cent workforce; and attendance in government offices has also been reduced to 50 per cent. Mamata said that she had also requested the private sector to encourage work from home and allow up to 50 per cent attendance in offices.

Earlier, the government ordered that all shopping complexes, malls, beauty parlours, cinema halls, restaurants and bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas and swimming pools will remain closed and prohibited “social/cultural/academic/entertainment related gatherings and congregations”. Later, it relaxed the restriction by allowing a maximum of 50 people to gather at a social occasion like a marriage reception, etc. Bazaars and hats can remain open only from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the morning and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the afternoon.

On May 5, Mamata also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on “several aspects” on the management of the COVID crisis. Her letter said:

“Considering the severity of the matter in its entirety, I would like to request you to kindly look into the following:

i) Free vaccination as Universal immunization for all in a transparent and time-bound manner…. Supply of vaccines is the core issue to address now;

ii) Ensuring adequate availability of essential drugs including Remdesivir and Tocilizumab to the states to meet their rising demand. At least 10,000 doses of Remdesivir and 1,000 vials of Tocilizumab is the daily requirement in our state.

iii) Consumption of medical oxygen has increased rapidly from 220 MT per day to 400 MT per day now, which is likely to rise to 500 MT per day in the next seven days…

iv) The dearth of oxygen cylinder is also a matter of concern. I am told that 70 PSA units have been allotted to Bengal recently, which is likely to take time to be installed. As such, to meet immediate necessity, the current system will have to be strengthened.”

On May 5, the number of new COVID cases crossed 18,000 (18,102) in the State for the first time, and 103 people lost their lives. The total number of active cases stood at 1,22,798, and the total deaths 11,950. North 24 Parganas registered the highest number of new cases at 3,982, followed by Kolkata (3,973).

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor