Manik concerned over COVID situation, attempts at reviving insurgency, demands that government be on guard

By Our Correspondent

Agartala, Updated: July 31, 2020, 12:50:50 PM   

The incumbent leader of the opposition and former chief minister Manik Sarkar expressed grave concern over the COVID situation in the country as well as in the state , asserting that drastic action in consultation with experts must be taken to prevent the escalation of the deadly virus. He said that unless a preventive or curative medicine was invented by scientists the COVID menace would continue to  haunt the country but the state governments across the country as well as the Centre can minimize the escalation and fatalities by taking appropriate action. "What is a matter of deep concern is that since March 24 when the lockdown had commenced first at Centre's directive the situation has not improved , rather it has deteriorated ; here I believe the state government made a mistake by limiting its tests on 5 : 1 ratio in stead of going for wholesale sampling and tests ; now it is being done but the situation has already worsened ; What is most regrettable is that the COVID crisis has pushed the poorer sections of people including the migrant workers to the brink ; they have lost their livelihood and they are not being provided with new means of income ; even our demands for free ration for six months and cash grant of Rs 7500 per family has not been fulfilled by the Centre or states" said Manik. He lashed out at the Centre's policies which are benefiting the super-rich and said that even at this late stage the governments in Centre and states should accept their demands.

He asserted that the CPI (M) was not opposed to the idea of lockdown and it appeals to people to maintain physical  distancing but total collapse of all activities in the name of lockdown will ultimately lead to collapse of the economy and suffering of people. Manik also demanded that doctors, nurses and paramedics be sent by helicopters to interior areas to carry on their good work among the people living in hilly interiors. He called upon the state government not to harbour any kind of complacency in the matter of dealing with COVID crisis.

On the issue of reported activities of banned militant groups to revive their activities , Manik expressed grave concern and said that the policies and programmes of the left front government had led to elimination of the insurgency threat . "I have noticed that in certain areas like Khowai, Lefunga police station and bordering areas of Panisagar subdivision of north Tripura the militants are trying to reorganise themselves ; this is a matter of concern and this should be nipped in the bud; in our time the ATTF had simply ceased to exist and their total arms and ammunition stockade had been taken away either by Bangladesh security forces or other militant groups while the left-over the denuded NLFT had become citizens and voters in Bangladesh ; in this context it is worrying that they are trying to revive their operations, may be the upcoming  ADC election is their target" said Manik. He also rued the fact that a leading NLFT militant who had been nabbed in  Shillong was allowed safe passage back to Bangladesh as sections in the Meghalaya government  had allowed this at the intervention of important figures from Tripura, refusing to specify names.

Manik also sounded worried over the Centre's decision not to part with GST collections with the state and described it as a blow on federal structure. "The GST had been implemented by amalgamating seventeen indirect taxes and six cesses and many state governments that had considerable incomes from indirect tax had agreed on the condition that 75% of the collections would be distributed among states and industrially rich states with revenue surpluses would be compensated for losing income ; but now if the Centre does not distribute the state's shares, let alone compensatory packages a terrible crisis of resources would weigh down the states" said Manik. On the prime minister's slogan for being 'vocal for local' Manik did not explicitly oppose this but said that the slogan should be appropriately implemented by all the states. "Your experience will tell you what is happening here but I do not think that the prime minister's slogans is being implemented ; the reports I read in the media and the information I occasionally get suggest this non-implementation" said Manik.

On the issue of ADC election he said that the CPI (M) want the election to be held in a free and fair manner at the earliest. "The ADC had been dissolved on May 17 and the governor or inter alia the state government could give a year's extension to the incumbent council but they did not do so ; but in any case we want the elections to be held in a smooth and peaceful manner at the earliest , not like the Panchayat or civic body by-elections" said Manik. He also castigated the central and state BJP set-ups for indulging in horse trading to capture governments in states and cited the examples of Manipur, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and now Rajasthan. "This is totally against the spirit of democracy and federalism as is the consistent attempts of the BJP-led centre to emasculate the states economically by seizing their power and resources ; such attempts are dangerous for the country" said Manik before winding up his interaction with a group of media persons.


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