In a surprise development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday skipped a review meeting conducted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Kalaikunda Air Force Station near Kharagpur to assess the damages caused by severe cyclonic storm Yaas that hit the state on Wednesday.
The review meeting snowballed into a political controversy after Banerjee personally met the Prime Minister before the meeting and submitted a copy of the damages caused by the cyclone to him.
She even left the Air Force Station before the meeting commenced.
Sources in the administration confirmed that Banerjee had asked for a separate meeting with Modi ahead of the review meeting convened by the Prime Minister.
Accordingly, a slot of 15 minutes was allotted during which Banerjee submitted a detailed report of the damages caused by the storm, mainly in three districts, to Modi.
Though there has been no official briefing on the meeting between the two leaders so far, sources close to the Chief Minister confirmed that the state government has submitted in the report that Bengal incurred damage to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore due to the severe cyclonic storm.
According to the state government officials, three districts faced the brunt of the cyclone the most — South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore.
Digha, Shakarpur and Mandarman — the three major tourist hubs of the state — were the worst affected by the storm.
In the 15-minute meeting, Banerjee briefed the Prime Minister about the damages caused to the agricultural fields, residential buildings, embankments and roads.
The Chief Minister then flew to Digha to take stock of the situation. Before her brief meeting with the Prime Minister, Banerjee conducted two administrative meetings — one at Hingalganj in North 24 Parganas and another at Sagar in South 24 Parganas.
Though the Chief Minister had said on Thursday that she would attend the review meeting with the Prime Minister, things started to change news surfaced that BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari will also be present in the meeting.
Adhikari, who was informed by the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday night, reached Kalaikunda at 1 pm in the afternoon and is attending the review meeting. State Minister for Irrigation and Waterways, Somen Mahapatra, is expected to be attending the meeting on behalf of the state government.