The CM, however, said, “I told the PM to ‘please do whatever you feel is needed’ before taking his permission to leave. But we will probably not get anything at all.”
She added, “The PM called for a meeting (in Kalaikunda). But I had a meeting in Digha that was scheduled earlier. So I went to Kalaikunda along with the state chief secretary, met the PM and handed him a report (on the damages). I also proposed two schemes. I told him that I had flown down from Sagar because he wanted to meet me and then took his permission to leave (for Digha).”
BJP and the Centre saw events in very different light. Central officials said no one from the West Bengal government received the PM and he, along with governor Jagdeep Dhankar, waited for a while. No state official was allowed to make a presentation to Modi and the soft copy remained loaded on the screen without being used while the CM breezed in and out of the meeting after giving some papers to the PM, they said.
Leader of opposition in the Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari wrote on Twitter, “Today is a dark day in Ind-ia’s long-standing ethos of cooperative federalism, a principle held sacred by PM Modi. The way Didi behaved with PM reflects her dictatorial nature and lack of respect for constitutional values.”
While Modi undertook 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, and the rest divided between Bengal and Jharkhand, the political drama held centrestage.
However, the meeting at Kalaikunda Air Force base — attended by ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Debasree Chaudhuri, besides Adhikari — sparked a heated political debate. Though Adhikari’s presence was not objected to specifically, BJP said he was there in his capacity as leader of opposition. Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was also invited but could not come as he was in Delhi.
The entire schedule of the PM-CM meeting 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.