Drama as Didi hands report at PM meet, leaves; Bengal chief secy recalled to Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday conducted aerial survey of cyclone Yaas impacted areas in West Bengal and Odisha and held review meeting with officials in the two states, and announced immediate financial assistance of ₹1,000 crore.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, however, skipped the meeting chaired by him, although she did meet him to give a report of the damage caused by the cyclone. “Since morning we have been conducting aerial survey. We then went to Kalikunda because the Prime Minister had called a meeting. We didn’t know. We had (scheduled an administrative) meeting in Digha. But still we went to Kalaikunda and handed over the report...,” said Banerjee.
Banerjee said, as per the report submitted to the PM, the state has suffered a damage of around ₹15,000 crore.
The PM’s review meeting was attended by Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Debasree Chaudhuri, governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and, interestingly, leader of the opposition in West Bengal and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. No state government officials attended it.
Top leaders of the BJP, including party president JP Nadda and Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, slammed Banerjee for skipping the PM’s meeting. Nadda tweeted that it was “the murder of constitutional ethos & the culture of cooperative federalism”.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh hit back. “ We don’t have time to respond to all these as our leaders are busy working...”
Hours later, the Centre called state chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay, who accompanied Banerjee on Friday and who was to retire on May 31, to Delhi. The Centre sent a letter to the state government, asking Bandopadhyay to report for duty at the North Block office of the department of training and personnel in Delhi on May 31.
Bandyopadhyay was given a three-month extension recently.
TMC spokesperson Ghosh termed it a “vindictive action by the BJP which can’t get over its humiliating loss in recent polls”.
In Odisha, chief minister Naveen Patnaik participated in the review meeting chaired by the PM, and did not demand any immediate package from Centre for undertaking relief and restoration saying that the country needs funds for Covid. “However, we sought assistance for long term measures to make Odisha disaster resilient...,” Patnaik said.
The PM also announced a payment of ₹2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and ₹50,000 each to the injured.