West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has a reputation of being a mercurial and often short-tempered person. But following the novel coronavirus outbreak people are seeing a different side of her. From being a firebrand politician, she has rapidly transformed herself into an able administrator with a humane touch.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought to the fore another side of the chief minister. A persona that perhaps many don't know.
Her restrained yet affirmative address to the people and the media about the outbreak has been lauded even by the Opposition parties. Banerjee conducted surprise visits to hospitals treating novel coronavirus patients and quarantine centres in Kolkata. Her act of distributing masks and hand sanitisers among doctors and health workers was widely appreciated.
“Please take good care of yourself. If you fall ill, then people will be helpless,” Banerjee told doctors during the visit. She has also warned of stern measures against those who are trying to evict doctors, health workers and others treating novel coronavirus patients from rented accommodations.
She has undertaken several innovative administrative measures such as turning the entire Kolkata Medical College into a 3,000-bed medical facility dedicated to the treatment of novel coronavirus-infected patients.
The Chief Minister who is known for her outspoken criticism of political rivals has carefully avoided any such criticism following the outbreak. During a recent all-party meeting about the novel coronavirus outbreak, her cordial gestures to the Opposition leaders were appreciated by them.
Her repeated urging to the Centre to stop all international flights and long-distance trains to the state has won the support of medical experts and common people. Even when pointing out certain alleged lacunas on the part of the Centre such as not supplying sufficient testing kits, Banerjee carefully avoided any reference to political parties. Her crticism has been constructive and tempered.
It seems, for now, that politics has taken a backseat for the veteran politician.