The Central and West Bengal governments were involved in another spat on repatriation of residents on Thursday, with the external affairs ministry saying the state hadn’t confirmed if it has arranged quarantine facilities to receive people who want to return from abroad.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava tweeted that flights to repatriate residents of West Bengal from abroad as part of Vande Bharat Mission could be arranged if the state government confirmed that it has organised quarantine facilities for them.
Srivastava was responding to a tweet from West Bengal’s higher education minister Partha Chatterjee, who posted a schedule of the flights being organised during the second phase of Vande Bharat Mission and questioned why there were no flights to the state.
The government is arranging 149 flights from more than 30 countries in the second phase of the massive repatriation programme to bring back some 32,000 people to more than a dozen states. West Bengal isn’t among the states.
“Is the MEA asking us to believe that there are enough people to come from Georgia to Gujarat but none want to come to Kolkata? Also, there are enough people to come back to Bihar from Kyrgyzstan but not enough to bring back to Bengal?? Stop this injustice !!!” Chatterjee tweeted.
Is the MEA asking us to believe that there are enough people to come from Georgia to Gujrat but none want to come to Kolkata ?
Also, there are enough people to come back to Bihar from Kyrgyzstan but not enough to bring back to Bengal??
— Partha Chatterjee (@itspcofficial) May 14, 2020
Srivastava responded by tweeting: “MEA does not discriminate between states. GOI’s Vande Bharat Mission is for all stranded Indians, including those from West Bengal. Over 3700 of them have registered for repatriation from different parts of the world.”
He added in another tweet, “Will gladly facilitate flights to Kolkata if state government will confirm arrangements to receive and quarantine. Will also help in return of WB residents through land borders with neighbours. We hope to receive an early response on the matter.”
MEA does not discriminate between states. GOI’s Vande Bharat Mission is for all stranded Indians, including those from West Bengal. Over 3700 of them have registered for repatriation from different parts of the world. (1/2)@MoCA_GoI @HomeSecretaryWB https://t.co/CEzU0rCAnM
— Anurag Srivastava (@MEAIndia) May 14, 2020
There was no immediate response from West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress party or its leaders.
In the past few days, the Central and West Bengal governments have sparred over the arrangement of special trains to bring back migrant workers of the state from other parts of the country. The Union home ministry contended it wasn’t getting support from the West Bengal government to help the migrant workers return home, and the allegation was dismissed by Trinamool Congress leaders.
An Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT), which visited West Bengal to assess the Covid-19 situation, said there were discrepancies in the reporting of cases in the state. In its final report submitted to the West Bengal government, IMCT also raised questions about the state’s contention that it had surveyed 50 lakh people.