Abhishek Banerjee’s ‘Diamond Harbor Model’ starts internal party debate, TMC asks leaders not to express their views in public

TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee’s ‘Diamond Harbor Model’ to contain the spread of COVID-19 in West Bengal has triggered an internal-party debate and sparked differences between the old guard and the next generation leaders. brought out in the open. Troubled by the war of words between the two camps, the party leadership has broken the whip and asked the leaders not to express their views in public forums.

While most party leaders have come out in support of Banerjee’s model, a section of party leaders have openly criticized it for being “blown out of proportion”. Banerjee came up with the model as Bengal faced a sudden spike in the number of coronavirus cases. Last week of December 2021.

On the occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, he wrote on social media that over 50,000 COVID tests were conducted in his Diamond Harbor parliamentary constituency, while the positivity rate was reported to be 2.31 per cent, which is just opposite to the average regular testing figure. 65,000 to 70,000 across the state. The positivity rate of the state is around 30 per cent.

With the annual Gangasagar Mela and civic polls to the four municipal corporations scheduled for January 22, the TMC’s national general secretary’s remarks on halting political events and religious meetings for two months raised eyebrows last week. Three-time party MP Kalyan Banerjee on Thursday openly criticized the Diamond Harbor model. “What model? Mamata Banerjee has come up with only one model. We are all fighting COVID in our own way,” he said.

The veteran TMC leader had also criticized Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee for publicly airing his views and speaking the language of the opposition BJP. “I can have my own opinion on some issues. But should I take it out? We should never. There is a rule in the organization. Looks like someone is speaking in the language of opposition BJP. The people of the state had voted for our leader Mamata Banerjee in the last elections. She is my leader. I do not consider anyone else as my leader,” he said.

Though TMC’s state general Kunal Ghosh tried to quell the controversy by saying that it was not one model versus the other, he was critical of Kalyan Banerjee. “The government under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee is doing its best to deal with the pandemic. People’s representatives are always doing excellent work at their level in their respective areas. Abhishek Banerjee is our National General Secretary. What he said about containing the COVID-19 spike reflects general public opinion. This is not contrary to the stand of the ruling system. So it’s not one model versus the other,” Ghosh said.

He said that the party is keeping a close watch on what the leaders are saying on the public platform. Echoing Ghosh, TMC MP Aparupa Poddar said that Kalyan Banerjee should resign as the party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha as he has violated its discipline.

Banerjee did not take it lightly and posted a few lines of a poem on social media, saying that “the only difference is having the backbone and speaking the truth”. Realizing that the mud-slinging done by the party leaders was sending a wrong message, the top TMC leaders immediately acted and cracked the whip.

On Friday, TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee said that everyone in the party has been asked not to express their views in public forums. “If anyone has anything to say, he should express his views within the party,” he said.

Senior party MP Saugata Roy said there is no conflict between the ‘Diamond Harbor Model’ and the state government’s approach to tackle COVID-19. “There is neither any conflict nor any confusion between what Abhishek Banerjee has said and the TMC government’s approach to tackle the pandemic. There is nothing wrong in what Abhishek has said.

Opposition parties hit out at the TMC and wondered whether the Diamond Harbor model was successful and whether the state government failed to tackle the pandemic. “If the Diamond Harbor model is successful, the state government’s model of tackling COVID-19 is a failure. So, if Abhishek Banerjee has passed, the chief minister has failed,” said CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty.

State Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that if 50,000 corona virus tests can be done in Diamond Harbour, then why are people living in other areas facing step-motherly treatment.

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