Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kalaikunda Air Base in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district on Friday and presented a report on the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas. The two leaders were to hold a formal review meeting attended by, among other, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, but the CM skipped it, saying she had to be at Digha, a coastal district badly affected by Yaas.
“I told him [Modi]: ‘You came far to meet me. You wanted to meet me, so I came,’” Mamata told journalists at Digha. “My chief secretary and I, we are submitting this report to you. I now have to go to Digha as per my schedule. So I am taking your leave.’”
“Now I am here [in Digha], where we are holding our administrative review meeting. Tomorrow we will conduct an aerial survey [of the affected regions],” she added.
Mamata and Modi’s brief 15-minute meeting at the airbase was their first since the April-May assembly election in West Bengal, which Mamata’s Trinamool won. They last met face-to-face on January 23, at Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial, to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose. On that evening, a furious Mamata walked off-stage after BJP supporters interrupted her speech with chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
Dhankhar criticised the CM for skipping the review meeting, saying it 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,” he tweeted.
Modi took aerial surveys of regions affected by Yaas, which caused havoc across South and North 24 Paraganas, Digha, East Medinipur and Nandigram districts. He later announced ₹1,000 for relief measures. The PM also announced ₹2 lakh each for the families of those who died in cyclone-related incidents. A sum of ₹50,000 each will be paid to those injured.
Mamata has pegged the damage to her state at ₹15,000 crore and already announced a rescue package of ₹1,000 crore.
Earlier on Friday Modi met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, after which he conducted an aerial survey of the state.
Patnaik said he had informed Modi of the “large-scale devastation” caused by the cyclone.