West Bengal’s governor and the ruling Trinamool Congress party (TMC) were embroiled in fresh acrimony over a video showing decomposed bodies being loaded into a van by the city civic body in daylight for cremation.
The TMC accused Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar of peddling “fake news”, drawing sharp retort. Dhankhar charged that the party was “deflecting from the main issue”.
The West Bengal government on Saturday dismissed the contents of the video as a “one-off incident” and said it has no link with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bodies shown in the video, which had gone viral on Thursday, were allegedly of COVID-19 victims and were being loaded into the vehicle for cremation at a crematorium in the southern fringes of the city. The authorities and Kolkata police had termed the video a “fake” and the bodies as unclaimed ones at a morgue of a state-run hospital.
Dhankhar, who shares a strained relationship with the state government since he assumed office in July last year, had in a tweet expressed concern over the “heartless indescribable insensitivity” shown in the video and had sought an explanation from the state home department and the Kolkata Municipal Commissioner.
The state home department in a tweet said attempts to “decontextualise the incident” and project it as a part of the pandemic despite the explanatory communique to the Governor “adversely affected the social mind”.
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“Government of West Bengal condemns untruths,” it said.
The TMC hit out at the governor accusing him of peddling “fake news” instead of helping the government at the time of crisis arising out of the contagion and Cyclone Amphan.
“The WB govt. is constantly working for the people of Bengal and all we expect from the honourable Governor is to help us by Not spreading Fake News and misinformation,” senior TMC leader and state education minister Partha Chatterjee said in a tweet.
His party colleague and former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi said it is “disappointing for the constitutional head of a state to parrot the narratives peddled by the BJP IT Cell”.
“@jdhankhar1, the only thing that has been compromised is the integrity of the office of the Governor. You have stayed consistently silent on the achievements of the State while looking for every little opportunity to malign it’s image,” Trivedi said in a tweet.
Reacting to TMC’s allegation, Dhankar said: “Instead of apologising for shaming the state, senior TMC leaders are busy attacking the governor for pointing out the truth.”
“Knives that were being sharpened… MPs and Senior Leaders have taken to tweeting similarly rather than apologise for shaming our State by such barbaric acts of dragging human bodies callously by pair of tongs,” he said on Twitter.
The governor said baseless allegations will not deter him and that he would continue his crusade for establishing the rule of law in the state.