Doctors’ strike weakens Mamata Banerjee’s authority in West Bengal

President of Indian Medical Association which called for a nation widestrike is a Rajya Sabha member of TMC. The Kolkata Mayor’s daughter, a doctor, says she is ashamed as a Trinamool supporter

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

Biswajeet Banerjee

Isn’t the IMA President a Trinamool Congress MP? And hasn’t the daughter of Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, herself a doctor, said she is ashamed as a Trinamool supporter? (Read her Facebook post below). The doctors’ strike in state run hospitals in West Bengal has eroded the political standing and authority of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the solitary woman chief minister in the country today.

Meanwhile, Calcutta High Court on Friday refused to pass any interim order on the strike by doctors in state run hospitals in West Bengal in protest against assault on two doctors by relatives of a patient at NRS Medical College & Hospital.

While a division bench of chief justice Radhakrishnan and Justice S. Ghosh urged West Bengal government to initiate a dialogue with striking doctors and restore normalcy, it also reminded striking doctors of their Hippocratic oath to serve humanity. It fixed the next date of hearing of the PIL on June 21.

In the meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association sponsored strike in solidarity affected outdoor patients across the country on Friday including hospitals like AIIMS in New Delhi. In other places including hospitals in Uttar Pradesh put on black badges in protest but continued working.

While the West Bengal chief minister has alleged a BJP conspiracy behind the strike, Dr Ajay Lekhi in Delhi pointed out that IMA national president Dr Santanu Sen happens to be a Trinamool Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha.

Asked why the IMA did not show similar concern following similar incidents elsewhere in the country, Dr Lekhi and other doctors claimed that while the IMA did condemn such incidents in the past, what happened in Kolkata was more serious and one of the two doctors was still in a ventilator.

Doctors in various places in the past have been beaten up by union ministers, MLAs, police as well as relatives of patients. People who accuse the IMA of political bias point out that the doctors’ body had not reacted the same way when Resident doctors were assaulted in Kanpur and Varanasi. Several instances of doctors being manhandled have been reported in the media from Delhi as well.

“There is no politics involved in this agitation. Yes, many times incidents take place where doctors are beaten up and the issue is not taken up at the national level. This is because we try to resolve it at the local level. Par ab paani sir ke uppar chadh gaya tha (Now it had crossed all the limits). So, we were forced to hold protest across India,” said Dr Lekhi.

“This is a serious issue. You cannot compare what happened at NRS in Kolkata with Gorakhpur. In Gorakhpur children died of negligence. Two or three doctors were arrested. Then also we had asked for their release and a probe. Here, relatives beat up doctors. One of them is on ventilator. We try to save patients, but we are not God,” said Dr Sunil Lamba.

Dr RP Soni, Fellow of Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) said in majority of the cases people assault doctors because they do not want to settle the bills. “If they have problem with doctor the relatives could lodge a complaint but taking law in their hands in not acceptable,” he said.

On conditions of anonymity doctors admit that the situation escalated because of poor handling of the situation by Mamata Banerjee. If she had called on the injured doctors and ordered police to take action against culprits, the situation would have defused. But she blamed outsiders for the strike, alleged political motive and threatened to throw out junior doctors from their hostels while serving an ultimatum.

To make things even more awkard for Mamata, the daughter of Kolkata’s Mayor Firhad Hakim, Shabba Hakim, who is herself a doctor, put up a Facebook post saying she is ashamed as a Trinamool supporter.

This is the full text from her Facebook post:

“For those who do not know Doctors in government and most private hospitals are boycotting OPD but are still working in emergency. Unlike other professions we can’t just decide not to work because at the end of the day we have humanity.
If there was a bus or taxi strike not one taxi driver or bus driver would provide you with any service no matter how dire the situation.
For those saying “Ono Rugider ki dosh?” Please question the government as in why the police officers posted in government hospitals do little to nothing to protect doctors? Please question them that when two truckloads of goons showed up why wasn’t back up sent immediately?
Please question why goons are still surrounding hospitals and beating up doctors?
We have a right to peaceful protest.
We have a right to safety at work.

P.S. as a TMC supporter I am deeply ashamed at the inaction and the silence of our leader.”

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