Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee on Thursday said funds allotted for building embankments were “misused” in Purba Medinipur in Bengal, where people were recently left homeless due to flooding caused by Cyclone “Yaas”.
BJP leader Sisir Adhikari, who is the Loksabha MP from Kanthi and father of BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, however, claimed that almost 90 per cent of the work was undertaken during his tenure as the chairman of Digha-Sankarpur Development Authority (DSDA), and the rest was slated to be completed by the end of the coming winter season.
He was removed from the post earlier this year by the TMC, and shortly after he followed in his son’s footsteps and joined the BJP.
The TMC MP, without naming the father-son duo, said it was “amply clear” who helmed the DSDA, when a road along the sea shore was built.
People also know well that who was in charge of the irrigation department which built the guard wall along the coast and strengthened embankments to stop sea water from gushing in, he stated.
Suvendu Adhikari, who joined the BJP last December, had held the transport, irrigation and waterways portfolio in the Mamata Banerjee’s previous cabinet.
Cyclone Yaas, which struck Bengal on May 25, left behind a trail of destruction in Purba Medinipur and South 24 Parganas among other places.
“Money was misused… not utilised properly. This resulted in shoddy work. Those in charge of such work have minimum concern for the people. Did they leave the party anticipating their shoddy work will come to light one day?” Mr Banerjee, who represents the Diamond Harbour seat, asked.
He further underlined that “all corrupt leaders will be tracked and held accountable for the substandard work undertaken by them”.
Slamming the BJP MLA for describing him as a “minor whose statements don’t matter”, Mr Banerjee, who is also the TMC youth wing president, retorted: “This minor has come to visit the cyclone-damaged areas of Purba Medinipur, where shoddy work by the DSDA aggravated the situation.”
The “adult, on the other hand, was caught cash-wrapped on camera”, the TMC leader said, probably alluding to the Narada sting operation.
Mr Banerjee, who interacted with villagers during the onsite inspection of the affected areas in Tajpur, asked them to submit details of the damage caused to their households and properties at the local panchayat office, ahead of the rollout of the Duare Tran (relief at doorstep) project.
He also distributed relief materials at the temporary camps set up in Kanthi constituency.
“This is not the time to indulge in politics. Everyone should come forward, rising above political differences to be on the side of people during crisis and calamities,” he said.
“I wonder where are those leaders who flew to Bengal from Delhi to have postor-bora (poppy seed fritters) at households. Where are they at this time of crisis?” he said, taking a dig at BJP heavyweights who had visited the state for campaigning ahead of the assembly elections.
Replying to Mr Banerjee’s charges, the Kanthi MP said several projects along the coastal belt by DSDA were set to be completed in the coming winter.
“Almost 90 per cent of the work along the belt is complete. The cyclone struck before the rest could be taken care of. Also, keep in mind that those seen with Abhishek Banerjee during his visit are also responsible for the work that was being undertaken…” the veteran leader claimed.
The Diamond Harbour MP, when also asked about his visit to the hospital to enquire about the health condition of BJP leader Mukul Roy”s COVID-positive wife, said not all relationships involve politics.
“She is like a mother to me. I know her since childhood. When I heard she is ill, I immediately decided to visit her,” he added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)