West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee faces flak, retracts ‘100% staff in office from June 8’ remark

A day after announcing that the state government and private offices will resume work with 100 per cent staff in attendance from June second week, the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has now retracted her statement. 

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee faces flak, retracts ‘100% staff in office from June 8’ remark

Kolkata: A day after announcing that the state government and private offices will resume work with 100 per cent staff in attendance from June second week, the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, has now retracted from her statement. 

It is to be noted that the Trinamool Congress chief had on Friday said that all government and private organisations will start their work with 100% labour force from June 8. 

The announcements from Mamata came just two days before the end of the fourth phase of the lockdown.

But her decision was severely cruised and she had to issue a new statement that even if the state government offices resume their work with 70% labour force, it would be up to the discretion of the private entities to decide how much labour force they want to resume their work.

In a series of tweets, Mamata said, “With multiple crises in the state, we've decided to increase State Government workforce capacity from 50% to 70%. Continuation of restoration work is one of the top priorities & this workforce increase will ensure that public services are uninterrupted and unhindered.’’ 

“In the Private sector, I urge all to stay safe, work indoors as much as possible & to the best of their abilities. Prerogative lies with the respective managements of private entities to decide on workforce capacity & act accordingly,” the CM said in another tweet.

“The lockdown will continue with minimal effects. Jute Mills and Tea Gardens will operate with 100% workforce capacity. We are together in this. I am sure with all your cooperation and understanding Bengal will emerge victoriously!,’’ she said in the third tweet.

She had thought of normalising the day-to-day functioning of major institutions, but her decision did not go down well with the opposition BJP and the CPI(M), which sought a “rethink” claiming that the state was witnessing a spike in the number of coronavirus cases.

Banerjee also made a statement on her Facebook page in which she said the "rest of the lockdown will continue with needful impact".

West Bengal became the second state to throw open the doors of the shrines for devotees after Karnataka, which has sought permission from the Centre to reopen religious places from Monday.

However, Banerjee made it clear that no congregation and not more than 10 people would be allowed at a time at religious places in the state. She also announced full operationalisation of tea and jute industries -- the state's economic backbone.

Hitting out at the Railways for sending trains jam-packed with migrant workers by completely disregarding social distancing norms, she wondered whether the Railways was running "corona express trains instead of Shramik Special trains".

"I have come to know that the railways is sending trains jam-packed with migrant labourers. In one seat, three-four persons are travelling for 48 hours to 72 hours. "So I thought then what is the harm in opening up religious places. From June 1, temples, mosques, gurdwaras and other shrines and religious places can open up in Bengal. But there would be no major congregation or celebration of any festival," Banerjee said.

The shrine committees will have to take responsibility regarding precautionary measures and sanitising the premises, she said.

All shrines and religious institutions, including Kalighat and Dakisneshwar temples, St Paul's Cathedral and Tipu Sultan Mosque, were closed for the last two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

Claiming that the state was able to control the spike in the number of cases for the last two months, Banerjee blamed the influx of people as one of the main reasons behind the increase in the number of cases.

"We were successful in controlling the spread of COVID-9 in last two months, but now it is increasing as a lot of people are coming from outside. The Railways is sending migrants in jam-packed compartments.

The number of COVID-19 cases is increasing because of this. The railways has some social obligation; they cannot operate based on profit and loss, she said. Her comments came a day after the state registered the highest single-day spike with 344 new cases of COVID-19 infection, taking the total number of cases to 4,536.