Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a 15-minute meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Kalaikunda Air Base in Bengal’s West Midnapore district Friday to assess damage caused by Cyclone Yaas, which tore through the state and neighbouring Odisha earlier this week.
This was their first meeting since the April-May Assembly election that Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool swept despite the opposition mounting a crass campaign fueled, in part, by the resignation of a large number of MPs, MLAs and ministers from the ruling party, several of whom joined the BJP.
“We will hand over a paper. Just for 15 minutes I will go. I will not be there for the review meeting. I will handover a paper with details of damages as far as we have gathered as of now,” Ms Banerjee said.
“PM had called meeting. We didn’t know… I had meeting in Digha (but) I went to Kalaikunda and gave the report asking for Rs 20,000 crore – Rs 10,000 crore each for Digha development and Sundarban development. I told him you (Bengal state officials) wanted to meet me. I took his permission and left,” she was quoted by news agency ANI.
The last time they were face-to-face was on January 23 – at Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. On that evening Ms Banerjee erupted in anger and walked off stage in a huff after her speech was interrupted with chants of “Jai Shri Ram“.
Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who has a running feud with Ms Banerjee, and Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who was her trusted aide before jumping ship to the BJP, attended the review meet that the Chief Minister skipped.
The Prime Minister then took aerial surveys of regions affected by Cyclone Yaas, which caused havoc across South and North 24 Paraganas, Digha, East Medinipur and Nandigram districts of the state.
PM @narendramodi undertook an aerial survey to review the situation in the wake of Cyclone Yaas.
The aerial survey covered parts of Odisha and West Bengal. pic.twitter.com/vo0hX6NDTK
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 28, 2021
Ms Banerjee said she would undertake surveys on Saturday.
She has pegged the damage to her state at Rs 15,000 crore – including the destruction of three lakh houses and 134 embankments. She has already announced a rescue package of Rs 1,000 crore, and ordered officials to go door-to-door in their relief efforts
Earlier this week she said over 15 lakh people had to be evacuated because of the cyclone.
The Prime Minister has already met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik; the two met in Bhubaneswar this morning, after which he conducted an aerial survey of affected districts in that state.
PM Modi issued a statement after his meeting with Mr Patnaik, in which he noted the effective role of central and states agencies in responding to the challenge posed by Yaas.
Reviewed the situation arising due to Cyclone Yaas. Discussed the preparedness, relief and rehabilitation efforts as well as other aspects. https://t.co/fkxtVZuGQw
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 27, 2021
He advised all agencies to ensure the restoration of normal life in the affected areas as soon as possible and asked that relief material is disbursed to all persons affected by the cyclone.
Yaas made landfall on the north Odisha coast – about 20 km south of Balasore – on Wednesday with 130-140 km per hour winds and 150 km per hour gusts.
At least three people died as Yaas hit Odisha. A fourth person died in Bengal’s Digha town.
Over 100 NDRF teams have been deployed across both states to help in rescue and relief efforts.
With input from PTI, ANI