Kolkata: Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a proposed meeting on cyclone Fani, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday accused him of doing politics with the natural disaster and also flouting the federal structure of the country.
Addressing a rally at Gopiballavpur in Jhargram district, she also said she “would not share the dais with Modi” during the ongoing polls as she does not consider him as the Prime Minister of the country.
“Expiry Prime Minister is doing politics ahead of elections. He had sent a letter yesterday (Sunday) as he has a pre-planned public meeting at Jhargram. What does it mean?
“He is coming to Jhargram and his plane would land at Kalaikunda. He calls us as if we are his servant and we have to report to him. For this, he would hold a meeting which is just an eyewash and then he would say at the (public) meeting that the state did not cooperate by not attending it,” she said.
She added: “Why should I go for an official meeting when you have come to Kalaikunda for an election meeting? Had he not come for election meetings, I would have gone (for the meeting).”
She also said that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik met Modi as the elections were over in the neighbouring state.
“I will not share dais with you during the elections time because I do not consider you as Prime Minister,” Banerjee said.
However, in an apparent reference to the proposed meeting for assessing damage caused by the cyclone, she again said: “How do you dare to hold/propose a meeting with state officials and the Chief Secretary excluding the Chief Minister. It is a federal structure. The Centre and state governments are elected by the people. Chief Secretaries are under Chief Minister not under Prime Minister.”
“You want to do photo-shoot and drama and then promise to provide some assistance. How will you provide fund now… you will lose the elections.”
It was not clear from Banerjee’s statements whether she was invited to attend the meeting or the Prime Minister wanted to hold the meeting with state officials including the Chief Secretary only to assess the damage in the wake of the cyclone.
There was more confusion as secretariat sources claimed earlier in the day that the state government got “no intimation” that the Prime Minister wanted to hold a meeting with Chief Secretary Malay Kumar De on cyclone Fani.
Banerjee alleged the intimations for the proposed meetings were released on Twitter in advance for publicity.
Addressing a rally in Jhargram in West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused Banerjee of neither receiving nor returning his calls regarding the cyclone.
Responding to this, Banerjee, in a public meeting at Bankura’s Kotalpur, said: “I was in Kharagpur and there was no opportunity to talk from Kolkata. I had cancelled all political meetings and was monitoring the situation.”
She also asked, “Where were you during the flood here and when people of Gopiballavpur, Jambani, Jhargram and Belpahari, Lalgarh, Netai were crying. Have you come here in 12 years?”
There was unrest in these areas and the state government had “solved it”, Banerjee said.
“During the BJP (led NDA) government (at the Centre) between 1999-2004, when these areas were on the boil, did you come once? Now, you are coming ahead of elections.”
She also accused the Modi-led government of depriving the states and its people despite them seeking assistance for flood-hit areas.
“I personally gave the entire report but you did not give a single penny. Today, we do not need to beg. We will restore whatever was damaged,” she said.
About 5,000 houses were completed destroyed and 30,000 houses were partially damaged by the recent severe cyclone, she added.