New Delhi: Union ministers Friday took to Twitter and attacked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for making Prime Minister Narendra Modi wait about 30 minutes for a meeting called to assess the impact of Cyclone Yaas in the state.
According to central government sources, Banerjee wanted to have a one-on-one meeting with Modi and didn’t join the scheduled cyclone review meeting. The prime minister waited at the conference room for around 30 minutes for a state government representative to join.
Both the CM and the chief secretary also did not receive PM Modi at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Midnapore district.
However, the chief minister later met the PM for a couple of minutes, handed over reports on the cyclone and left the venue citing her pre-scheduled review meetings in Digha. Banerjee later noted that she had taken Modi’s permission to leave.
Almost on cue, ministers in the Modi government began criticising Banerjee for “disrespecting” the prime minister. Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar termed it as a “black day in India’s rich democratic heritage”.
“Today marks a black day in India’s rich democratic heritage. @MamataOfficial disrespected the office of the Prime Minister & the people of West Bengal. This shameful act has left an irreparable dent in our ethos of Cooperative federalism & our constitutional values,” he tweeted Friday.
Today marks a black day in India's rich democratic heritage. @MamataOfficial disrespected the office of the Prime Minister & the people of West Bengal. This shameful act has left an irreparable dent in our ethos of Cooperative federalism & our constitutional values.
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) May 28, 2021
Meanwhile, Home Minister Amit Shah called Banerjee’s conduct as an “unfortunate low” and said that “Didi has put arrogance above public welfare and today’s petty behaviour reflects that”.
Mamata Didi’s conduct today is an unfortunate low. Cyclone Yaas has affected several common citizens and the need of the hour is to assist those affected. Sadly, Didi has put arrogance above public welfare and today’s petty behaviour reflects that.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 28, 2021
Smriti Irani, women and child development minister, also said that Banerjee “could’ve put petty politics aside”.
“As the Prime Minister of India is kept waiting for a meeting held to expedite assistance to the people of WB, the petulance shown by the CM of Bengal is shocking indeed. For once she could’ve put petty politics aside, the spirit of cooperative federalism is the need of the hour,” tweeted Irani.
As the Prime Minister of India is kept waiting for a meeting held to expedite assistance to the people of WB, the petulance shown by the CM of Bengal is shocking indeed. For once she could’ve put petty politics aside, the spirit of cooperative federalism is the need of the hour.
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) May 28, 2021
Union minister and senior BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan termed “what transpired at the cyclone-related review meeting in West Bengal” as a “great insult to the mandate given by the people”.
“Will @MamataOfficial Didi run away seeing @SuvenduWB every time? Victory brings grace and humility, sadly it was only of arrogance & egotism from Didi,” he said.
Minister of State for Animal Husbandry Pratap Sarangi posted a four-tweet thread on the matter and said that Banerjee’s “wilful absence from the Hon’ble PM’s cyclone -related review meeting at Kolkata is cheap politics at its apogee. Her bizarre behaviour, full of arrogance & false pride demeans democracy & its high traditions.”
Babul Supriyo, BJP leader from West Bengal, also tweeted on the matter,
Bengal's Shame @MamataOfficial •
This is the display of Cheap Ego, a Nauseating Mindset that nurtures Dirty Politics – Nothing Less, Nothing more • But this filth has long been her USP so she's used to pardoning herself easily too•Her fall is just a matter of time @BJP4India pic.twitter.com/GsdBW9tlaL
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) May 28, 2021
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and several others also criticised the West Bengal CM.
Also read: Bengal BJP still fuming over poll loss, blames Delhi: ‘They knew nothing of Bengali psyche’
Mamata demands Rs 20,000 crore relief package from Centre
PM Modi waited at the review meeting venue along with Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, union minister Debasree Chaudhuri and BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari for 30 minutes for a state government representative. No civil servant was present at the meeting either.
Banerjee, while addressing a cyclone review meeting at Digha in East Midnapore, around 127 km from Kalaikunda, where Modi’s meeting was held, said she had not been “informed” about the meeting in an appropriate manner.
“The Prime Minister called a meeting. We did not know that I had a meeting scheduled in Digha. I handed him the report asking for ₹20,000 crore for Digha development and ₹10,000 crore for Sundarban development. I told him that state government officials had a meeting with me so I took his permission and left,” Banerjee was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
However, Trinamool Congress sources maintain that she was unhappy because Modi had got Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of opposition and her former aide who defected to the BJP, to the meeting.
In the few minutes she met the PM, Banerjee handed over a report demanding a Rs 20,000 crore relief package for the development of Digha and Sundarbans (delta) areas, which bore the brunt of the cyclone in the state.
Meanwhile, the central government recalled West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, hours after he skipped the meeting with PM, with orders to report to New Delhi by Monday morning.
(With inputs from Madhuparna Das)
Also read: Bengal facing ‘repeated discrimination’ from Centre, unhappy with cyclone aid, says Mamata