Kolkata, June 15 (IANS) The much-wanted solution to the junior doctors’ strike in West Bengal continued to look ellusive as the agitators on Saturday night turned down Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s appeal for talks, claiming that her initiatives lacked “honesty”.
Holding a press conference on Saturday evening, Banerjee appealed to the striking doctors to immediately resume medical services at the state-run hospitals and assured that the state government is ready to accept all their “legitimate demands”.
“I have already appealed to everyone related to the medical fraternity to end the impasse for the sake of the ailing patients. I would again appeal to the junior doctors to end the agitation. We are always open to discussions. Let the good sense prevail,” Banerjee said.
She also said that the state government would not initiate any coercive action such as the ESMA (Essential Service Maintenance Act) as it is looking for a “peaceful solution to the problem”.
When asked whether she would go to the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the doctor’s movement, as per the demand of the agitators, Banerjee refused to answer.
“I will not tell you whether I will go somewhere or not. I think the state secretariat is the best place to hold a meeting with government officials in a democratic manner. I had gone to SSKM Hospital that day and waited for three hours but no one came to talk to me,” she said.
But the junior doctors refused to accept Banerjee’s Banerjee’s olive brunch and stuck to their demand that she would have to come down to the NRS Medical College and Hospital to listen to their demands.
“We want her to come to NRS and listen to us and take necessary steps to solve the problem. We are on our toes to serve the ailing people and are eagerly waiting to resume work, but from the CM’s side, there are no such honest initiatives,” the doctors at NRS said in a statement issued shortly after Banerjee’s press conference.
The agitators at NRS also refuted Banerjee’s claim that some junior doctors had gone to meet her at Nabanna on Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi wrote to Chief Minister Banerjee advising her to take immediate steps to provide security to the doctors and asked her to take them into confidence.
Protesting against the brutal attack on two junior doctors by the family members of a dead patient in the NRS Medical College and Hospital on Monday night, doctors across the state have stopped work at the outpatient departments (OPDs) in most government hospitals in the state since Wednesday.
Chief Minister Banerjee on Thursday afternoon visited Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital where she gave the agitating doctors a four-hour ultimatum to withdraw their strike and warned of “strong action” if the situation was not normalised within the deadline, but the agitators ignored her tough talk.