Kolkata, Jan 25 : The Centre's decision to upgrade Jalpaiguri district hospital in Northern West Bengal into a medical college and convey it first to the state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, has raised the hackles of the Mamata Banerjee government, which is bitterly complaining of being kept in the dark about the move.
The latest episode of the serial stand-offs between West Bengal's Trinamool Congress regime and the BJP-led NDA dispensation at the Centre was sparked off by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan's letter to Ghosh intimating him of the decision.
"It gives me immense pleasure to inform that Government of India has sanctioned opening of a new government medical college by upgrading the Jalpaiguri district hospital in West Bengal," the Union Minister said in the missive dated January 23 addressed to "West Bengal state-BJP president".
But that was not all.
Vardhan also expressed the hope that under Ghosh's 'dynamic leadership' the college will "help in meeting the medical needs of residents of the region and ensure a healthy and prosperous India".
The state BJP media cell posted a copy of the letter on its whatsApp group on Friday night under the caption "massive update" and pointed out that Ghosh, also a Lok Sabha member, and Jalpaiguri MP Jayanta Roy had raised "this demand in the Parliament and in various meetings with Harsh Vardhan".
It also claimed with the college set to come up, "there will be a massive improvement of healthcare facilities in North Bengal".
Apparently taken by surprise, the state government hit out at the Centre for "bypassing" it while taking the decision.
"We had sent such a proposal to the Centre long back. But we have not been officially intimated about the sanction. I am totally in the dark. How can the Centre announce a decision to upgrade a district hospital under the control of the state government without informing us? "Unless you discuss with the state government you can never implement the decision pertaining to such an important district hospital," said minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya. Chief Minister Banerjee holds the health portfolio.
Bhattacharya also wondered how the Centre in its wisdom chose to give the letter to Ghosh.
State minister and legislator from Jalpaiguri's Dabgram-Phulbani Gautam Deb also spoke on similar lines.
"I know nothing about the letter. The total thing is very laughable. Who is Dilip Ghosh? Why should such a letter be sent to him? He is only an MP, that too not from Jalpaiguri, or from any seat in North Bengal. I am totally confused as to how a government medical college will be built and run under his leadership".
Deb said it was yet another instance of the BJP displaying its expertise in "carrying out multiple assaults on the federal structure causing the collapse of the constitutional framework after being elected by the same Constitution".
Notwithstanding the criticism, Ghosh remained unfazed. "They are very irritated as they now cannot misappropriate the credit for the hospital. It has been a regular practice for the Mamata Banerjee government to claim credit for all central projects".
"And why are they so surprised? Our government has taken a decision, and informed me. That's all. I have repeatedly appealed to the union government for establishing the medical college. The Jalpaiguri MP has also done so." Taking a dig at the Chief Minister for skipping crucial meetings with the central government, Ghosh said "They don't go anywhere, they don't hold discussions. So why would they be informed? "But the moot point is the state is getting another medical college. The state government has either been informed or will be intimated," he added.