Even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee backed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Janta Curfew proposal, the West Bengal government directed teachers to go their respective schools over the weekend. The Prime Minister has requested all of India to stay indoors from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday, March 22, in the wake of the novel coronavirus threat.
Dismissing PM Modi's appeal, the district inspector of schools in Kolkata issued a notice asking all the teachers to come to schools, which otherwise have been closed till April 15, and make arrangements to kickstart the distribution of mid-day meals from Monday.
Member of Parliament Swapan Dasgupta took to Twitter to post a screenshot of the notice dated March 21 which read, "The Honorable CM desires distribution of Rice and Potato from the Schools among Guardians from today by 10:00 pm and complete the rest within 22.03.2020 and send a report in prescribed format."
To undermine Sunday’s Janata Curfew, W.Bengal govt has deemed rice & potatoes will be distributed at schools tomorrow. This means there will be crowds at schools. The exercise, which could have been done Monday is aimed at subverting social distancing. This is vindictive politics pic.twitter.com/z2V68XVlAp— Swapan Dasgupta (@swapan55) March 21, 2020
Authorities will have to buy potatoes from the local markets at Rs 18 per kg and each student will be given 2 kgs of rice and potato per month, an official was quoted as saying.
BJP not amused by the move
Accusing the Mamata Banerjee government of deliberately defying the Janta Curfew, the BJP's state unit general secretary Sayantan Basu said that "the lives of many are being risked for the sake of petty politics".
In revert, TMC spokesperson Snehashis Chakraborty said, "I am afraid that Bengal BJP leaders must not have listened to the Prime Minister's speech with the required attention. PM Modi never asked essential service providing activities to remain stopped."
"Teachers, in this case, are providing an emergency and essential service, as many students' families depend on the mid-day meal," he added.
Interestingly, when Mamata was asked about the Janta Curfew on Friday, March 20, she said, "In this crisis situation, the PM has made a proposal. Let us all work together in tackling the pandemic."
Twitter lashes out at Mamata
Several users on social media slammed the West Bengal CM for playing political games even in such crucial times.
Here are a few reactions:
Not just Vindictive, but Disgraceful Politics. What else can anyone expect from this Demented Woman who needs to be Confined to a Mental Asylum, but is Unfortunately the CM of West Bengal instead ?????— Trevor Saldanha (@TrevorIndia) March 21, 2020
WB Govt to distribute rice & potato in Schools on #JantaCurfewMarch22— Archie (@archu243) March 21, 2020
The distribution was preponed from 23-24th March to clash with #JantaCurfew
Vindictive Mamata does not care about the health of her people & indulging in cheap politics over #Covid_19#StayHomeStaySafe