KOLKATA: The notification to reopen institutional quarantine and safe home services in Kolkata after September 30, the day scheduled for the Bhowanipore bypoll, has sparked quite a debate. The bizarre letter of advisories was issued by the chief health officer of Kolkata Municipal Corporation in the wake of the rising Covid cases in the state capital.
Mentioning the date in the advisories by the Trinamool Congress dominated civic body is said to be politically significant as reopening of quarantine centres and safe homes before the election day might give the BJP a chance to demand postponing the by-poll citing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Institutional quarantine and Safe Home services may be reopened if required (but after 30.09.2021 after Bhwanipur Assembly Election) to contain Covid situation in Kolkata during and after Durga and Kali pujas,’’ the letter says.
Sources in the state health department said mentioning the by-poll date in the letter was unnecessary. “No one knows what will be the Covid pandemic situation after a week. How can we set up a time restriction for opening quarantine centres and safe home facilities,’’ asked an official of the state health department.
The ruling Trinamool Congress said the mention of the by-poll in the advisories might give BJP a scope to raise the pandemic issue. “The BJP was against the by-election citing the Covid pandemic and aiming at Mamata Banerjee’s resignation from the post of the chief minister. She needs to be elected as an MLA by November 5 and if the by-election is deferred, she will have no option but to step down from the post of the CM as there will be a month-long festive season in October. Besides, no one knows what the Covid situation will be after the festive season,’’ said a senior TMC leader.
BJP’s Bengal chapter alleged that the advisory reflects the state government’s mood to suppress the actual Covid infection picture to ensure Mamata Banerjee’s seamless tenure as the chief minister. “If quarantine centres and safe homes are reopened before the by-poll, the question of conducting the election amid pandemic may be raised. This is why the advisory clearly mentioned the facilities can be reopened after the by-election,” said a BJP leader.