West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday (June 5) slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “indulging in politics” at a time when the state was facing the dual challenge of the COVID-19 crisis and the devastation caused by cyclone Amphan.
“When we are working for saving the state from the devastation caused by the cyclone and COVID-19, one political party is busy canvassing that the present government be thrown out and that the people of Bengal vote for it,” she said without directly referring to the BJP.
“Is this the time to indulge in politics? I am not saying that (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi be thrown out of Delhi. It is not the time for politics,” she said. The chief minister also urged people not to indulge in politics and to jointly work for restoration of normalcy.
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Training her guns on the BJP, Banerjee said none other than Trinamool Congress leaders, ministers and workers were seen tackling the double blow of the cyclone and coronavirus in West Bengal, but one particular party was spreading canards against her government.
“Where were they for the last three months? Only we can proudly say we were working on the ground every day. Bengal will win. Corona will lose. Conspiracy will lose,” said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The chief minister’s response came a day after state BJP president Dilip Ghosh mocked her demand to declare the cyclone as a national disaster. He also questioned the government’s claim that the state had suffered losses worth ₹1 lakh crore due to the cyclone, alleging that it was a ploy to “make money” in the name of the disaster.
“This is a strategy to make money from these disasters. The CPI-M had this disease earlier, now it has spread to the Trinamool Congress,” Ghosh had alleged on Thursday. “There is nothing called national disaster. The state government should just tell the centre the extent of the damage caused,” the BJP leader said.
On the occasion of World Environment Day, Banerjee also inaugurated an ambitious project for planting five crore mangrove trees in the Sunderbans, which bore the brunt of cyclone Amphan that destroyed nearly one-third of the forest. She said 1,600 square kilometre of the 4,200 square km mangrove forest has been destroyed in the cyclone.
The project for planting five crore mangrove trees in the Sunderbans is set to be completed within a month, the chief minister had said on Tuesday. Planting a neem tree in a South Kolkata park, she said her government, along with the civic authorities and the Kolkata Police, will plant 50,000 trees in the city, where 16,000 trees were uprooted by the cyclone.
“Our government has already sent interim relief to 25 lakh farmers affected by the cyclone, those people whose houses were destroyed, affected fishermen and others have also been given money,: Banerjee said, adding that her government has already released ₹6,500 crore for relief and restoration work and more funds are required.
She said over 10 lakh migrant workers have arrived in West Bengal from different states and her government has spent ₹200 crore for their transportation and other arrangements. She accused the Centre of sending back migrant workers in an unplanned way, thus leading to the spread of COVID-19 in the state, which, she said had been under control.
(With inputs from agencies)