Bengal Doctors Strike: Medicos don’t turn up for talks with Mamata Banerjee despite CM’s assurance that government won’t invoke ESMA

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday again appealed to the agitating junior doctors in the state to end their strike, assuring them that her government would not invoke ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) against them.

“We have the laws, but we do not want to use them. We are not going to take any harsh action against any of the agitating junior doctors and impede their career,” she said at a news conference after the agitating doctors did not turn up for a meeting at 5 pm.

Under the ESMA, employees in a long list of “essential services” are prohibited from going on strike.

She said the state government is working to find a “peaceful solution” to the problem, and that it is ready to consider demands put forward by the doctors for their security inside hospitals.

“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 discussion,” Banerjee said at the state secretariat, Nabanna.

“Yesterday (Friday) I had waited for talks with the junior doctors for nearly five hours, but they did not arrive. They told senior doctors that they would come today. So I along with my team of administrators waited for them. But they have not come today either. I would appeal to everyone to join the work,” she said.

On the mass resignation of doctors across the state, Banerjee said it was not legally tenable.

“If the junior doctors think I am incapable, they can always talk to the governor or the chief secretary… or the commissioner of police,” she said.

The agitating doctors had earlier turned down an invite for a closed-door meeting with Banerjee at the state secretariat on Saturday and instead asked her to visit the NRS Medical College and Hospital for an open discussion to resolve the impasse.

Meanwhile, the Centre on Saturday sought a report from the West Bengal government on the ongoing doctors’ strike, officials said.