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Mamata skips review meet with PM on Cyclone Yaas, leaves BJP leaders irked

CM Mamata Banerjee, however, met the Prime Minister and submitted a report on the damage caused by the cyclone in her state. In the 15-minute interaction with PM Modi, she also sought a Rs 20,000-crore relief package for the worst-affected areas. 

By: Express Web Desk | Kolkata, New Delhi |
Updated: May 29, 2021 2:41:01 pm
Mamata Banerjee held an administrative meeting with the district magistrate, superintendent of police, and block development officers. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday skipped a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Cyclone Yaas, drawing criticism from top BJP leaders.

However, CM Banerjee met the Prime Minister and submitted a report on the damage caused by the cyclone in her state. In the 15-minute interaction with PM Modi, she also sought a Rs 20,000-crore relief package for the worst-affected areas.

Earlier in the day, PM Modi visited Odisha and Bengal to review the post-cyclone situation. He undertook an aerial survey of the cyclone-ravaged areas and held review meetings in both states. While Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik attended the meeting with Modi, Banerjee skipped the review meeting in her state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducts aerial survey of Cyclone Yaas hit parts of Odisha and West Bengal. (PTI Photo/Twitter @narendramodi)

Coming down heavily on the Bengal CM, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Banerjee has put “arrogance above public welfare”. “Didi’s conduct today is an unfortunate low. Cyclone Yaas has affected several common citizens and the need of the hour is to assist those affected. Sadly, Didi has put arrogance above public welfare and today’s petty behaviour reflects that,” he tweeted.

BJP national president J P Nadda accused her of “murder of constitutional ethos and the culture of cooperative federalism”. Nadda said Modi holds the principle of cooperative federalism “very sacred” and has been actively working in sync with all the chief ministers irrespective of their party affiliation for people’s good. But unsurprisingly, Nadda said, Banerjee is indulging in petty politics that goes against the welfare of Bengal’s people.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee takes a stock of damages due to the landfall of Cyclone ‘Yaas’, in Digha, Friday, May 28, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI05_28_2021_000203B)

“When PM Narendra Modi stands strong with the citizens of West Bengal in wake of Cyclone Yaas, Mamata ji should also set aside her ego for the welfare of people. Her absence from the PM’s meeting is murder of constitutional ethos & the culture of cooperative federalism,” he tweeted.

The relationship between the Bengal government and the central government has been far from smooth with CM Banerjee often accusing the latter of using central agencies and also the governor’s office to harass her government. The BJP, on the other hand, has denied the charge and often claimed that she has used the state machinery to target its members.

Senior BJP leader and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh termed Banerjee’s behaviour an “unfortunate example of placing political differences above the constitutional duty of public service”.

Uprooted banana plantation at a waterlogged area in Shankarpur village, in the aftermath of Cyclone ‘Yaas’, in East Midnapore district, Friday, May 28, 2021. (Photo: PTI)

“Today’s development in West Bengal is shocking. The chief minister and the Prime Minister are not individuals but institutions. Both assume responsibility by taking a pledge of public service and an oath of allegiance to the Constitution,” Rajnath tweeted. “This type of behaviour with the Prime Minister, who has come with the intention of helping the people of Bengal in the time of calamity, is painful. This is an unfortunate example of placing political differences above the constitutional duty of public service, which is the core of the Indian federal system. It hurts sentiment too.”

Miffed by Banerjee’s decision to skip the meeting, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said non-participation by the chief minister and her officials in the meet with the Prime Minister was not in sync with constitutionalism or rule of law. “It would have served interests of state and its people for CM and officials to attend Review Meet by PM. Confrontational stance ill serves interests of State or democracy. Non participation by CM and officials not in sync with constitutionalism or rule of law.”

Bengal incurred loss of Rs 20,000 crore, claims Mamata

Meanwhile, Banerjee claimed her state has incurred a loss of Rs 20,000 crore due to the cyclone Yaas. “We have sought a package of Rs 10,000 crore each for the redevelopment of Digha and the Sunderbans… It could well be that we might not get anything,” PTI quoted her as saying after an administrative meeting held in the tourist town of Digha.

A villager salvages remains of her damaged house at a waterlogged area in Shankarpur village, in the aftermath of Cyclone ‘Yaas’, in East Midnapore district, Friday, May 28, 2021. (PTI Photo)

She, along with Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, conducted an aerial survey of cyclone-hit areas in North 24 Parganas district, and took stock of the post-cyclone situation in Hingalganj, Hasnabad, Sandeshkhali, Pinakha and other areas of the district.

“I have seen that most of the areas have been inundated. Houses and large tracts of agricultural fields are under water. A field survey will also be conducted,” Banerjee said. She also chaired an administrative meeting with the district magistrate, superintendent of police, and block development officers.

On Wednesday, Cyclone ‘Yaas’ rampaged through parts of India’s eastern coast, killing at least four people and forcing more than 21 lakh people to be evacuated to safe shelters in West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand.

A woman carries her salvaged belongings through a waterlogged area along the coastal areas of Tajpur, in the aftermath of Cyclone ‘Yaas’, in East Midnapore district, Friday. (PTI Photo)

Modi announces Rs 1,000-crore relief for cyclone-hit areas

A release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said PM Modi has announced a financial aid of Rs 1,000 crore for immediate relief activities. “Rupees 500 crore would be immediately given to Odisha. Another Rs 500 crore has been announced for West Bengal and Jharkhand, which will be released on the basis of the damage. The Union Government will deploy an inter-ministerial team to visit the states to assess the extent of damage, based on which further assistance will be given,” it said.

The Prime Minister has also announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured in the cyclone, the release said.

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