We've accepted all demands, request junior doctors to rejoin work: CM
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the junior doctors on Saturday to end their strike and resume work at the earliest as hundreds of patients await medical treatment, including children and the elderly.
Claiming that the government has taken all measures for their safety and security, she reiterated that no action like promulgation of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) will be taken against the agitating doctors.
The reaction of the Chief Minister came after a representation from the junior doctors from NRS Medical College & Hospital did not turn up for talks at Nabanna on Saturday despite the former giving them time for a meeting with her.
"Healthcare is an essential service that cannot be stopped. I will appeal to them on behalf of the government to please join work on humanitarian grounds and restore normalcy by lifting the strike. I will not take any action against them. Let good sense prevail," Banerjee said.
She also reiterated that "one must show respect to the constitutional body". "I have cancelled all my programmes and waited for them on Friday. I did the same today (Saturday) as the government is keen to resolve the impasse. I think the state Secretariat, Nabanna, is the highest place for holding talks on such matters. We have shown enough patience and have already adhered to all their legitimate demands. We are open to any other additional demands that may be put forth... But we want an amicable solution to this problem. I have spoken to the Governor and he is convinced," she maintained.
The Chief Minister referred to a number of instances where other governments had taken strong action against the agitating doctors. "The BJP government under Narendra Modi in 2009 had imposed ESMA and arrested 150 doctors while they were on strike. The Tamil Nadu government had increased internship of the doctors from one to two years. However, I believe in democracy and my government is extremely sensitive to their demands. I don't want to take any stern action against them as it will be a blot on their careers forever. Some junior doctors met me today (Saturday) and have said they want to join work. I am hopeful that soon more and more doctors will resume their duties," she added.
Banerjee mentioned that she had felt humiliated when the agitating doctors refused to speak to her the very next day when they had started their cease-work.
Reacting to the Ministry of Home Affair's advisory and demand of an urgent report on doctor's strike in Bengal, she challenged the Centre to send an advisory to Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. "First ask Modi government to send MHA advisory to Yogi's government [on] how many people have been killed there in encounters", she said.
Five senior doctors led by Dr Sukumar Mukherjee who had mediated in opening a dialogue between the state government and the junior doctors went to Nabanna on Saturday and met the Chief Minister. "We have submitted a status report to the state Chief Secretary that we have been unable to bring the junior doctors to the discussion table," Mukherjee said. This team of doctors had met Banerjee on Friday as well in an effort to resolve the impasse and a call was made to four members of the agitating NRS doctors to come for talks.
The junior doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital stuck to their stand that the Chief Minister will have to come down to the hospital and listen to their grievances.
Earlier in the day, Indian Medical Association president Santanu Sen held a meeting with the agitating doctors and administrative authorities and urged them to hold talks with Banerjee at Nabanna.
Though the Out-Patient Departments remained closed, the Emergency services in all the state-run hospitals, including NRS, were functional on Saturday.