Kolkata: Striking junior doctors on Friday rejected a proposal from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for talks at the state secretariat Nabanna, and stuck to their stand that she would have to come down to the NRS Medical College and Hospital to listen to their grievances and apologise for having cast aspersions on them.
The invite to the junior doctors was sent from the Chief Minister’s secretariat after the intervention of five senior doctors led by Sukumar Mukherjee, who called on Banerjee at Nabanna and offered to mediate to resolve the stalemate which has completely paralysed medical services at state-run hospitals of Bengal for the last four days.
“We have come on our own to resolve the issue as the medical services in the state are going through a crisis – both for the doctors and the patients. We want the doctors to feel secure, and the government also to keep its promise to improve functioning of the hospital services,” said Mukherjee after a two and half hour meeting with the Chief Minister.
Following their request, the Chief Minister’s secretariat invited four members of the striking junior doctors for talks, and Director, Medical Education, Pradip Mitra was rushed to NRS Medical College and Hospital – the epicentre of the protests – to persuade the medicos to come for talks.
However, the medicos said they were not in a position to go, as they would be holding a general body meeting to decide on the issue.
The veteran doctors waited at Nabanna, hoping the meeting would take place, till information was relayed to them that the junior medicos had turned down the proposal.
It was then decided that the talks would be deferred to 5 p.m. on Saturday, so as to give time to the quintet of veterans to persuade the young medicos to attend the meeting.
“We will again come on Saturday. if they (junior doctors) send their representatives there will be a meeting. The Chief Minister wants a quick resolution of the issue. She has given her proposals,” said Mukherjee.
The protestors, on the other hand, said the proposal had come at least four days late.
“Had the message come four days back, the patients wouldn’t have faced such an ordeal. The situation has become more volatile now. Today we saw no reason to go. But we have not taken any decision on our next step. We will hold a GB meeting on Saturday morning and make public our stand,” said a representative of the junior doctors.
However, another junior doctor said they wouldn’t go to Nabanna. “She should come down to NRS, hear our grievances, and apologise for her remarks on Thursday.”
Banerjee had visited SSKM Hospital on Thursday and gave the doctors a four-hour deadline to withdraw their strike and normalise the services at the hospitals. She also threatened to use the Essential Services Maintenance Act and warned of “strong action” if the strikers miss the deadline.
Banerjee also saw a political conspiracy and a BJP and CPI-M hand in the protests, and dubbed the agitators “outsiders”, “BJP workers and CPI-M cadre”.