Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee became chief ministers at the same time after Tamil Nadu and West Bengal voted for their parties with a massive show of support.
But their track record in governance for the last six months (since they came to office) is vastly different.
Mamata is still struggling to get a grip of her administration while Jayalalithaa has shown that, when it comes to delivery, nobody can beat her.
One wonders whether Mamata can learn a tip or two from Jayalalithaa — at least when it come to governance.
When children die in Bengal hospitals, Mamata can’t think of anything but blame the Marxists!
But look at Jayalalithaa. Her politics of putting down her political rivals, the DMK, also includes creating better hospital care in Tamil Nadu!
Jayalalithaa on November2 announced that the modern Anna centenary library in Chennai, a multi-crore project of the earlier DMK government, will be converted into a super speciality paediatric hospital. The library would shift to a new integrated intellectual park to be housed in an alternative site in the city.
In July, this very library complex was the venue for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address about 1500 students.
Jayalalitha’s decision comes two months after she announced her plans to convert the Rs 500 crore new secretariat complex in the heart of Chennai, also built during the previous DMK regime, into a multi-specialty hospital.
By creating a super speciality hospital for children the state would ensure that it is a child welfare state, she says.
What does Mamata do? She gets angry with the media for putting questions to her after series of deaths of new-born at two state-run hospitals when she wants to talk about the industry policy of her government. Then after a week, Mamata does a re-think. She says most of the infants had been underweight and were suffering from malnutrition. “I have come to know that most of these babies were underweight and were suffering from malnutrition. 30 babies died. It is sad,” she tells her party workers.
The government had earlier given a clean chit to both the B C Roy Children’s Hospital and the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital on the death of the infants. later she blamed the Left’s rule of 34 years for hospital mess in Bengal!
She also says “I took the initiative to add 37 ICU beds and 3,000 beds in hospitals and we have many plans to upgrade the health system.”
But more bad news is in store. Barely a week after 27 newborns died in two state-run hospitals in three days, a woman is swabbed with muriatic acid instead of the normal antiseptic solution after she delivered a still-born in a state-run hospital in Murshidabad district. She suffers burns.
The incident comes within two months of a nurse wiping the arm of a female patient with carbolic acid before administering an injection at SSKM hospital, Kolkatta’s largest post-graduate medical research institute.
Ironically, the news broke a few hours before chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who also holds the health portfolio, defended the department on the spate of infant deaths last week. “As many as 40,000 babies died every year in the state during the Left regime. We are focusing on many aspects including setting up specialty hospitals in the districts,” she said.
Ironically, when she took over as chief minister, she had paid surprise visits to Kolkatta hospitals.
Coming back to Jayalalithaa and Mamata, the two leaders can still help each other. After all Jayalalithaa has national ambitions and a number of people from West Bengal seek out medical facilities in Tamil Nadu for treatment. By the way, both the leaders are good friends– though Mamata wasn’t happy recently when her Tamil Nadu counterpart launched a broadside at a National Development Council meet against the UPA government for step-motherly treatment of her state while placating West Bengal with a huge financial package!