The political rivalry between two of India's biggest leaders Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee may adversely affect relief work in cyclone hit areas in West Bengal. Lack of co-ordination between the Centre and the state has been apparent in the past couple of days. First, reports emerged PM Modi had called the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to discuss the cyclone situation, but not rang up West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.
Later, PMO clarified that it was Mamata Banerjee who had not received the PM's calls; the prime minister had called her up twice. Today, West Bengal state government has refused to allow a meeting between its officials and PM Narendra Modi.
According to sources in the Prime Minister's Office, West Bengal government cited election duty of officials as a reason for cancelling the meeting.
PMO Sources: However the state government has replied that the govt officials are busy with election duty and hence the review meeting should not be held. 2/2 https://t.co/i1p0GpB24y— ANI (@ANI) May 6, 2019
PM Modi was in Odisha today to take stock of the destruction caused by Fani. He conducted aerial survey of the areas affected by the cyclone in districts of Puri, Khurda, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Governor Ganeshi Lal and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Later, he also chaired a review meeting with Odisha state government officials.
PM Narendra Modi conducts aerial survey of #Cyclonefani affected areas in Odisha. Governor Ganeshi Lal, CM Naveen Patnaik and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also present. pic.twitter.com/ZO9XkRC7kK— ANI (@ANI) May 6, 2019
After Odisha, he was supposed to hold a review meeting in West Bengal. The Government of India had written to the state about a review meeting of the PM with state government officials today, ANI quoted PMO sources as saying.
The Centre and West Bengal have been at loggerheads for the past few months now. Of late, this has boiled down to PM Narendra Modi and CM Mamata Banerjee launching verbal attacks against each other while electioneering for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. While Modi has blamed Mamata of disrupting law and order in the state, the latter has charged the PM with destroying the crucial institutions of the nation.
Speaking at an election rally in Tamluk, West Bengal on Monday, PM Modi said, "I tried to speak to Mamata Didi regarding the cyclone situation twice but she did not respond. She is least bothered about the people of Bengal. I wanted to take stock of the situation with the administration but arrogant Didi refused it too."
I tried to speak to Mamata Didi regarding the cyclone situation twice but she did not respond. She is least bothered about the people of Bengal.— BJP (@BJP4India) May 6, 2019
I wanted to take stock of the situation with the administration but arrogant Didi refused it too: PM @narendramodi#HarBoothParModipic.twitter.com/weihmc9oC6
Responding to PM Modi's jibe, Mamata Banerjee said, "How can you support... you are an expiry PM. And why should I meet you? How dare you try to hold meeting with the State Chief Secretary? They report to the CM and not PM."
"I want to ask him where was he when people in these areas were in trouble... backward areas like Lalgarh... how many times have you come here? We have solved the Maoist problem here... now during polls you come... last time during floods I went twice to meet you and demanded assistance and you did not give a penny. Now whatever has happened the state government is capable of handling it ourselves. We don't need you," the West Bengal CM said while targeting the PM.