New Delhi: Softening their stand, protesting junior doctors in West Bengal on Sunday said that they were ready for talks with chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the venue of her choice. The doctors, who had gone on strike last week, however, stressed that the talks should be held in open, in the presence of media persons. The government is yet to respond to their demands.

“We are keen to end this impasse. We are ready to hold talks with the chief minister at a venue of her choice, provided it is held in the open, in the presence of media persons, and not behind closed doors,” a spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors told reporters after a two-and-half-hour-long meeting of their governing body.

The spokesperson said the venue should be spacious enough to accommodate representatives from all medical colleges and hospitals in the state. The doctors had earlier stated that they want talks with the government at the venue, decided by the governing body of medical practitioners.

On Saturday, Mamata had invited the striking medicos for closed-door talks, but they had turned down her offer, asking the CM to come down to NRS Medical College and Hospital to listen to their grievances.

After the offer was declined, Mamata, held a press conference in the evening and said that the TMC-led state government has accepted all the demands of the medicos and was ready to accommodate their additional demands, but they must resume work.

Assuring doctors that her government would not invoke ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) against them,” Banerjee had said,”I do not want to invoke Essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) Act in the state. I want the junior doctors to resume work as we have accepted all their demands.”

However, the doctors stuck to their stand and rejected Mamata’s appeal, saying the ‘chief minister did not take any honest initiative to address their concerns’. “We are eagerly waiting to rejoin our duty, but from the Chief Minister’s side there is no honest initiative to find a solution (of the ongoing problem),” the agitators had stated yesterday.

Protesting against the brutal attack on two junior doctors by the family members of a dead patient in the NRS Medical College and Hospital on Monday night, doctors across West Bengal have stopped work at the outpatient departments (OPDs) in most government hospitals in the state since Wednesday. Over 300 medicos across various state-run medical college and hospitals in West Bengal have resigned from their services.