“Amra kara? Bohiragoto!” (Who are we? Outsiders!)This was the most chanted slogan across hospitals in West Bengal during the seven day long doctor’s strike in the state after doctors were attacked at Kolkata’s NRS Medical College and Hospital on 10 June.In her first reaction to the protests, Chief Minister Banerjee had said that the protesting doctors were ‘outsiders’.On 17 June, when the chief minister met the agitating doctors at the state secretariat to resolve the impasse, she said: “Amaake galagal dao, kutsha koro, kintu lokkhi chele meye tomra, kaaj shuru kore daao.” (You can abuse me, use bad language, but you are good boys and girls, please start work).When the 31 junior doctors who were sent as representatives came back to NRS, they were greeted with:‘Amra kara? Lokkhi chele!” (Who are we? Good boys!)‘Good Boys’ (And Girls) Lose SteamThe above-mentioned meeting was televised live by a local news channel on the insistence of the protesting doctors.On television, the first few visuals of the meeting were amusing, to put it mildly. Mamata sat at the secretariat’s conference room, with heads of police, the bureaucracy and the health department on either side.Opposite to her were the junior doctors – a little nervous, clearly in their newest, most meticulously ironed shirts and neatly parted hair.When the first doctor, a representative of Calcutta Medical College, started speaking, his pace would probably have put Atal Bihari Vajpayee to shame.One by one, multiple doctors presented 12 demands to the chief minister. Most of them relating to security of hospital staff while they work.As soon as the first point was raised, Mamata interrupted the speaker to say:“You know, I was thinking...why not put a collapsible gate at the entrance to the Emergency wards? This is something that just came to my mind. It might take time to get it done by the PWD, so you guys can get it done yourselves.”Every subsequent question on security was hit out of the park with the kind of political astuteness that the state was craving from the chief minister for a week.Halfway through the 95-minute meeting, Mamata had promised a nodal officer to monitor hospital security in each district, PR personnel to deal with patients and a grievance cell in all hospitals so that patients don’t have to take up their complaints with the doctors.What did disappoint some however, was how the doctors, who were roaring like lions till about an hour before, suddenly became very apologetic.Each speaker who spoke presented a prologue of how the CM’s many schemes were brilliant and were functioning brilliantly before raising their demands.The most jarring moment, however, was when the doctors, after a slew of apologies, asked the CM to meet Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, the intern doctor who had been greivously injured in the head during the violence at NRS on 10 June.This was one of their foremost demands since day 1.“Unless you call of the strike, I won’t be able to meet him,” she said.And noone questioned her as to why she couldn’t.There was a high point, however. As the meeting ended, one of the doctors, again after a slew of apologies said: “Madam, please don’t mind, but we don’t look at surnames when treating patients.”Mamata was flummoxed but she soon made up for it by offering fish-fry filled food packets and tea to the doctors who “had been speaking for a long time”.Live Telecast Of Meeting With Protestors: Mamata Tries to Redeem HerselfOn 16 June, the junior doctors, after six days of strikes and repeated efforts by some senior doctors, agreed to meet with the chief minister to end the impasse. They had two demands:The meeting must have representatives from all medical colleges of the state.The meeting must happen ‘in front of the media’.After the doctors extended the white flag, the CMO was quick to respond saying that two medical representatives from each medical college were invited for a meeting with Mamata at the state secretariat. The letter from the CMO office said that the whole meeting will be recorded and then given to the students.The doctors didn’t relent. They insisted on live-streaming and media coverage.The meeting was scheduled for 3pm on 17 June. At 2.45pm the CMO notified the doctors that live-streaming of the meeting will be allowed.While many may be unaware that Mamata was very reluctant to do this on live television, the fact that she did, won her many praises – even from her detractors.“When else has a head of state held a negotiation with agitators on live television?” many asked.“History has been made today,” some concluded.WB Doctors End Strike, CM Mamata Assures Security in HospitalsMamata Meets Paribaha & A Private Group Gets 50 Acres Of Top Real EstateAfter the meeting ended, the doctors headed back to NRS to make the official announcement of calling off the strike after consulting with those who were a part of the protest. The chief minister, in the meanwhile, headed to the Institute of Neurosciences in Kolkata, a private hospital where Paribaha Mukhopadhyay was being treated.The meeting lasted 10 minutes.Soon after, the Chairman of the Institute, Dr Rabin Sengupta, while speaking to reporters, told them what happened at the meeting.“She saw his stitch and said that he should get a plastic surgery, if necessary. The government will take care of the costs. I said that after all this he will not have a problem with the girls,” Sengupta joked.He then went on to say that the chief minister asked him to open a Neuroscience University in Kolkata and promised the Institute 50 acres of land in Kolkata’s Rajarhat – one of the hottest real estate areas of the city – to do the same.“We asked her to give us land in Kalyani. She said Kalyani is far away, and that we should do it in Rajarhat (Kolkata). Then I said that we’ll need a lot of land and she won’t be able to give us that much in a prime area like Rajarhat. She asked us how much and we said 50 acres. She said, ‘50 acres is not much at all!’,” Sengupta said.It might be worth mentioning that after the meeting with the doctors at the secretariat, Sengupta briefed the press at the hospital, dispelling rumours that Paribaha would not be able to swim, cycle or perform surgery henceforth. He was also the one issuing all his health bulletins since his treatment began.The layman, therefore, was left quoting ACP Pradyuman.“Daya, kuch toh gadbad hai.”Bengal Hospital Crisis: Politics Can Wait, Not Healthcare We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.