New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee skipped a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an assessment of Cyclone Yaas’ impact. And instead chose a quick 15-minute interaction with the PM at an airbase where his flight landed. She was scheduled to attend a cyclone damage review meeting with PM Modi but left only after handing him a report.
“You wanted to meet me that is why I have come today. Me and my Chief Secretary want to submit this report to you. Now we have a meeting at Digha so we seek your permission to leave,” the Chief Minister said.
This was supposed to their first face-to-face since Mamata Banerjee’s third straight victory in the West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021.
According to Mamata Banerjee’s office, she had informed the Centre about her meeting but was asked to wait for PM Modi at the airbase and that apparently upset the CM.
However, the Centre upped the ante by accusing Mamata Banerjee of keeping PM Modi and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar waiting for more than 30 minutes.
“The conduct by Mamata Banerjee, even during a natural calamity, is deplorable and reeks of low level petty politics,” sources in the central government was quoted as saying by NDTV.
“When PM arrived to attend the review meet, there was no one from the West Bengal government. Both the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary were present in the same premises and YET they did not come to receive the PM,” the central government sources said.
“Suddenly Mamata Banerjee, in her haughtiness, storms in and hands over a bunch of papers on the cyclone impact to the PM and says that she is leaving as she has other visits lined up. Never before in the history of the Indian Republic has a Chief Minister of a state behaved in such an ugly, disrespectful and arrogant manner with high constitutional position holders such as Prime Minister and Governor,” sources added.
The Chief Minister is “callous, arrogant and supremely unmindful of the welfare of the people of her state” and has dealt “an unprecedented blow to propriety and federalism” with her petulant behaviour, was the central government’s perception.
Governor Dhankhar straightaway accused Banerjee of “boycotting” the Prime Minister.
Sources also said the CM “did not allow” state government officials to make a presentation before the prime minister.
“The entire presentation was loaded on the screen, however, her pettiness prevented officers from presenting it to the PM. The PM took out time to review the damage in West Bengal, but the Chief Minister’s politics and pettiness prevented it from happening,” the sources further said.
It is learnt that Mamata Banerjee was reportedly upset that Suvendu Adhikari, who is now West Bengal Leader of Opposition, was invited to the meeting.
Sources in the state government stated that Banerjee’s office had confirmed the time with PM Modi separately, ahead of the review meeting. “It was all agreed, so why was she made to wait,” officials said.
Meanwhile, PM Modi announced Rs 1,000 crore Cyclone Yaas relief — 500 crore for Odisha and Rs 250 crore each for West Bengal and Jharkhand — has peeved West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
However, Banerjee has demanded Rs 20,000 crore for post-cyclone relief and rehabilitation from the Centre — Rs 10000 crore for Sundarbans, and the equal amount for the Digha-Mandarmoni zone and its adjoining areas devastated by the cyclone.