As Fani crosses into Bangladesh, parties in Bengal back in campaign mode
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who, on Friday morning, had announced the cancellation of political programmes for 48 hours and positioned herself right on the projected path of the storm in Kharagpur to monitor and coordinate relief efforts, participated in two roadshows.Updated: May 04, 2019, 16:26 IST
Political parties in West Bengal enthusiastically plunged back into campaigning on Saturday after cyclone Fani lost severity upon hitting the state on Friday.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who, on Friday morning, had announced the cancellation of political programmes for 48 hours and positioned herself right on the projected path of the storm in Kharagpur to monitor and coordinate relief efforts, participated in two roadshows in Ghatal and Chandrakona in West Midnapore district.
“We are happy that cyclone Fani had no major impact in Kolkata and Bengal. Our campaigning schedule will follow its normal course,” said Sayantan Basu, general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Bengal unit.
“Even when the disaster was looming, our candidates conducted door-to-door campaigns as far as possible. Saturday will be a normal day,” said Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator Sujan Chakraborty. On Friday, Left candidates went door to door in Tamluk in East Midnapore district, one of the areas where the cyclone was supposed to hit the hardest.
Saturday was the last day for campaigning for seven constituencies in Bengal where polling will be held during the fifth phase on Monday.
Though the damage to the Bengal districts from cyclone Fani is yet to be documented fully, the chief minister said on Saturday morning that 12 brick-built houses were flattened and 825 houses were partially damaged. “We will build them again. I have told the district magistrates,” she said on Saturday morning. Mamata Banerjee also said that power supply was disrupted in some areas since electric poles were toppled on Friday night.
The state government and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) evacuated 42,000 people. “The KMC mayor and his team of civic officials stayed awake on Friday night to meet any eventuality,” said the chief minister, adding that the roads had been cleared of uprooted trees. Banerjee also expressed the hope that those evacuated would be moved back to their homes quickly.
Damage was mostly reported in the districts of West Midnapore, East Midnapore and South 24 Parganas. In some areas of West Midnapore, farmers began harvesting paddy since the wind and rain flattened the ripe crop.
Though meteorological officials said on Friday that Fani would hit Bengal as a severe cyclone between midnight and early morning, the storm lost its sting by the time it reached Bengal.
Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, deputy director, IMD Kolkata, said on Saturday morning that Fani will start moving into Bangladesh by 10 am.
Rain was predicted in some areas of Nadia, Murshidabad and South 24 Parganas.
Kolkata airport began operations from 8 am on Saturday after remaining closed for 17 hours.