West Bengal: ‘Federalism’ row after PM-CM ‘brief’ interaction | Kolkata News

KALAIKUNDA/KOLKATA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday took an aerial survey of Cyclone Yaas-ravaged parts of East Midnapore and announced a Rs 1,000-crore package in immediate relief for three states, 50% of which would go to Odisha, the rest divided between Bengal and Jharkhand.
The state’s assessment of immediate damage caused by the cyclone, as presented by CM Mamata Banerjee to the PM, was Rs 20,000 crore.
The amount will be released “on the basis of the damage” assessed by an inter-ministerial team which will tour the three states. The PM was told that the maximum damage due to the cyclone occurred in Odisha and partly in Bengal and Jharkhand, according to a release. The PM assured the people of Odisha, Bengal and Jharkhand that the Centre “would closely work with the state governments” and extend all possible assistance to restore and rebuild infrastructure. .
However, the PM’s review meeting at Kalaikunda Air Force base — attended by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Debasree Chaudhuri, state opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari and the PM’s adviser, Bhaskar Kulbey — sparked heated political debate, with BJP accusing the CM of prioritising politics before people. Earlier, Banerjee and CS Alapan Bandyopadhyay had met the PM and submitted reports on preliminary losses.
The entire schedule of the PM-CM meet was coordinated with the PMO, Nabanna officials said. It is learnt that the CM’s chopper reached Kalaikunda around five minutes after the PM flew in from Odisha. Bandyopadhyay said the CM first flew to Hingalgunj — bordering Bangladesh — and then to Sagar Islands. “After meeting the honorable Prime Minister in Kalaikunda, she reached Digha to gain a hands-on knowledge from the district officials,” he said.
Sources said Banerjee’s schedule had been fixed on Wednesday, whereas the PM’s schedule was known only on Thursday. Later, Nabanna was first informed that the review meeting would include the governor, and the Union ministers. Suvendu Adhikari was included even later.
On Friday, the CM flew in to meet Modi without disrupting her meetings to take a first-hand knowledge of the worst-affected zones. The schedule was known to the PMO. When the CM reached Kalaikunda, the PM was reportedly in a meeting. She sought time to meet the PM, interacted with him, and left with his permission to keep her commitments.
Emerging from the meeting, Adhikari and Chaudhuri told reporters that it was time for all to rise above politics, but as the day wore on, BJP functionaries — including Adhiukari and even home minister Amit Shah — launched into a fusillade against Banerjee.
This prompted Trinamool MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray to say: “Three weeks ago the people of Bengal showed them their place. Today, central ministers gang up on Twitter (yes!) to give sermons to the Bengal CM. Some people never learn. After murdering federalism, they must know that federalism is not one way traffic. LEARN from her, don’t lecture her”.
Adhikari had earlier said: “I will not neither wade into any controversy, nor will I attack anyone politically. It was my responsibility to take our collective demands to the Prime Minister. I was in touch with the PMO and the Union home minister’s office. I had also spoken to the Union home minister. I was asked by the PMO to attend the meeting. I saw the CM meet the PM and hand over reports.”
Asked whether his presence and the CM’s absence were linked, Adhikari said: “Did she say that? Did the state say that? Why will I respond to imaginary questions?” Chaudhuri, too, said it was time to rise over politics.
But later, Suvendu wrote on Twitter: “Today is a dark day in India’s long-standing ethos of cooperative federalism, a principle held sacred by PM Narendra Modi. The way Didi behaved with PM reflects her dictatorial nature and lack of respect for constitutional values. Instead of working with the PM for the betterment of West Bengal, she is indulging in petty politics.”
Suvendu’s statements was backed by Union home minister Amit Shah, who posted on Twitter, “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.”
BJP national president JP Nadda also posted on Twitter, “When Hon PM Shri @narendramodi stands strong with the citizens of West Bengal in wake of cyclone Yaas, Mamata ji should also set aside her ego for the welfare of people. Her absence from the PM’s meeting is murder of constitutional ethos & the culture of cooperative federalism.”
Governor Dhankhar too posted: “Certainly by such actions neither public interest nor interest of state has been served.”

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