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Bengal parties spar over cyclone relief

Snigdhendu.Bhattacharya@htlive.comKolkata: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s West Bengal unit chief, Dilip Ghosh, was on Saturday prevented from visiting a cyclone-hit area even...

Updated: May 24, 2020 02:58 IST

By Snigdhendu Bhattacharya,

Kolkata: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s West Bengal unit chief, Dilip Ghosh, was on Saturday prevented from visiting a cyclone-hit area even as chief minister Mamata Banerjee underlined it was not the time to do politics and her Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders echoed her.

“If there is no politics, why was our state president stopped from visiting an affected area?” asked BJP’s national secretary, Rahul Sinha. He said the administration did not stop Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Kanti Ganguly from visiting Sunderbans a day before the cyclone hit the state for carrying out relief work there.

No one from TMC agreed to comment but an official said Ghosh was stopped because of the Covid-19 protocol. “...even during restoration and relief, we have to keep in mind the Covid-19 protocols about social distancing. His presence would have led to the gathering of a crowd.”

TMC and BJP have been involved in a bitter political fight in the state, where assembly polls are due next year. The tensions escalated in April after the Centre blamed the state’s government for mismanagement of the Covid-19 situation. The BJP emerged as TMC’s principal opponent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when it bagged 18 of the state’s 42 seats. The TMC won 22 seats.

TMC secretary-general and minister Partha Chatterjee said Banerjee has instructed that politics should take the back seat. “...we should all focus on restoring normalcy, standing united.”

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury separately said the Rs 1,000 crore advance assistance Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcement during his visit to the cyclone-hit state on Friday is insufficient given the extent of the devastation. He also said the state government lacked preparedness to deal with the cyclone.

TMC leader Derek O’Brien said he did not have the details of the assistance. “But I do have the details of the money already owed to Bengal, which has nothing to do with the cyclone. The total is Rs 53,000 crore, of which Rs 36,000 crore is due under the central schemes...”

The BJP on social media hailed Modi for visiting the state soon after the devastation and announcing the immediate assistance .


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