Amid a new political tussle between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party over the review meeting of Cyclone Yaas, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee issued an official clarification in a video.
According to reports, the controversy started on May 28 because the chief minister arrived, handed over papers related to the impact of the cyclone and left early for other meetings in the afternoon.
Among other leaders, Governor Jagdeep Dhankar took to Twitter to say, “It would have served interests of state and its people for CM and officials to attend review meet by PM. Confrontational stance ill serves interests of State or democracy. Non-participation by CM and officials not in sync with constitutionalism or rule of law.”
In her defence, Banerjee can be heard saying in the video that she was asked to wait for at least an hour before she could hand over the primary report of the devastation to the prime minister.
"When I went there with Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, the prime minister was already there. We had to go to Digha. After 10-15 minutes, when we asked them to let us meet the PM, they said it'd take at least an hour."
The chief minister clarified that she asked for permission to leave with the chief secretary to review relief and restoration work in Digha, West Bengal, as per her schedule.
"I told the prime minister that we had to go to Digha and other cyclone-affected areas. We're coming from other cyclone-affected areas. I handed over the report to the prime minister, and he received it. I took his kind permission to leave as the weather was not good," she added.
The meeting between the prime minister and chief minister was scheduled between 2:30 and 3:30 pm on May 28 in Kalaikunda in Paschim Medinipur district.
It was earlier reported that the PM's decision to invite Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari to the cyclone review meet scheduled with the state administration irked Banerjee.
"Why was the Opposition Leader invited to the meeting?" Banerjee can be heard asking in the video.
Adhikari took to Twitter to say, " Mamata Banerjee has shown once again that she is insensitive to the sufferings of the people of West Bengal."
Her absence from the meeting also brought criticism from several BJP central leaders, who also took to Twitter and slammed the West Bengal chief minister.
Banerjee stated that she held a one-on-one meeting with the prime minister and briefed him about the situation on the ground. She handed over the state government's cyclone assessment report to the prime minister and sought a package of Rs 20,000 crore from the Centre for Digha and Sundarban Development.