West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday skipped the review meeting on cyclone ‘Yaas’ presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kalaikunda Air base in the State, even though she met Mr. Modi at the same venue. The Chief Minister also handed the Prime Minister a report on the disaster caused by the cyclone.
“After having review meetings in Hingalganj & Sagar, I met the Hon’ble PM in Kalaikunda & apprised him regarding the post-cyclone situation in WB. The disaster report has been handed over for his perusal. I’ve proceeded now to review the relief & restoration work at Digha,” Ms. Banerjee said on social media.
The Chief Minister told mediapersons that she could not participate in the review meeting as she had to attend a meeting on the damage caused in Haldia.
“We went to Kaliakunda, Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyophyay accompanied me. We submitted a report and urged the Prime Minister that what he deems fit he should implement on the basis of the report,” Ms. Banerjee told mediapersons later in the day. She said that the State government has sought implementation of two schemes each of ₹10,000 crore for Digha development and Sunderban development.
“I told him that since he wanted to meet me, I have come from so far and gave him the report. But I have a meeting scheduled in Digha and have to go there,” Ms Banerjee said. This was the first meeting between Mr. Modi and Ms. Banerjee after the Assembly election in the State.
Sources said Ms. Banerjee was upset about Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, particularly Leader of Opposition and Nandigram MLA Suvendu Adhikari, being present at the review meeting.
The developments evoked a strong response from the BJP leadership, including party president J.P. Nadda and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
While Mr. Nadda said that the Chief Minister’s absence from the meeting is “murder of constitutional ethos & the culture of cooperative federalism”, Mr. Singh said that he is stunned at the developments.
“PM @narendramodi ji holds the principle of Cooperative federalism very sacred & has been actively working with all CMs irrespective of party to give relief to the people. Unsurprisingly @MamataOfficial’s tactics & petty politics has once again came to haunt the people of Bengal,” said Mr. Nadda on Twitter.
The Defence Minister said, “This type of behavior with the Prime Minister, who has come with the intention of helping the people of Bengal in the time of calamity, is painful.”
Reacting to the developments, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said it would have served the interests of the State and its people “for CM and officials @MamataOfficial 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,” Mr. Dhankhar said on Twitter.
Cyclone Yaas swept past the coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha on May 26, causing widespread damage. Ms. Banerjee had estimated the damage in West Bengal to the tune of ₹20,000 crore.