Mamata accuses BJP IT cell of spreading fake news on Bengal corona cases

Mamata Banerjee. (File photo: IANS)

Kolkata, Apr 6 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday slammed the BJP’s IT cell for allegedly spreading fake news against the state’s health department over COVID-19 cases and asked it to refrain from ‘petty politics’ in the time of crisis.

Her comments came in the backdrop of BJPs IT cell chief Amit Malviya’s tweet accusing the West Bengal government of hiding coronavirus data. She, however, did not name the BJP or Malviya.

Banerjee also announced the formation of a ‘Global Advisory Board’, a policy-making body which will aid the state government in preparing a roadmap for COVID-19 response in Bengal.

Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee and other eminent personalities from the state will be members of the board which will advise the chief minister in reviving the economy after the lockdown is revoked, she said.

“This is the time to serve the people. But I have noticed that a political party’s IT cell is using fake news to malign West Bengal’s health department. Our doctors and health staff are doing their best to fight the disease. This is not the time for petty politics. We never pointed at the lacunas of the central government in dealing with the crisis,” she told a press conference here.

West Bengal currently has 61 active COVID-19 cases.

“They may be more interested in politics by clanging utensils and bursting crackers, but we are not,” she said, apparently targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his campaigns urging people to applaud corona fighters and display their collective resolve to defeat the deadly virus.

The economy is also facing a crisis due to the lockdown and a roadmap is needed to revive it once it is withdrawn, the chief minister said, adding: “After notebandi (demonetisation), now it is gharbandi (home quarantine).”

“To chalk out a future roadmap on how to revive the economy and help the downtrodden and develop health infrastructure, we have formed a Global Advisory Board to form the COVID-19 response policy in the state. Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Bandhopadhyay will be there in the committee along with those who have made a mark in the world,” she said.

Speaking at another programme, Banerjee said the economist has given his consent to be associated with the board.

The chief minister asked people to remain positive as a large number of people used to get sick because of malaria and dengue in the past but now these diseases are under control.

“Similar is the trend for corona. Don’t think in a negative way. Always be positive. Medicines are working and there is no dearth of medicines,” she said.

Banerjee said her government will not open tea gardens of the state “immediately” as per the guidelines of the central government and would review the situation before taking a decision about it.

“Eleven members of a family in Kalimpong (in Darjeeling district) have been infected with COVID-19. People in tea gardens are scared. (The state has) borders with Assam, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. I think we should wait for a few more days (before reopening the tea gardens,” she said.

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