BJP and Trinamool lock horns over post-cyclone relief distribution in Bengal

Published : November 15, 2019 13:10 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee distributing relief and financial assistance to cyclone-affected persons at Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district on November 13. Photo: PTI

The ruling Trinamool Congress and its main political opponent, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have locked horns over the distribution of relief in the aftermath of the “very severe cyclone”, Bulbul, that ravaged the coastal areas of West Bengal.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has insinuated that the BJP is playing politics with the disaster, and also accused the Centre of not providing the State with enough funds which would have helped with relief work. “We have received Rs.640 crore less in this part of the year than last year… Around Rs.17,000 crore is due to us from the Centre. If they had given us that due amount, we could have used it to carry out the relief work.

Cyclone Bulbul, which had struck West Bengal on November 10, claimed 14 lives and left a trail of destruction, particularly in the coastal belt. According to the Chief Minister 15 lakh hectares of paddy land and five lakh houses were damaged and around six lakh people have been affected.

Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Babul Supriyo, who is also an MP from West Bengal’s Asansol seat, faced protests by alleged Trinamool activists when he had gone to visit Namkhana, one of the worst-hit areas. In the course of his visit to affected regions, Supriyo tried to project the State government’s failure to provide relief to the people living there.

In a thinly-veiled attack against Supriyo, Mamata said, “I feel that both the State and Central governments should work together in this situation. Certain individual politicians and supporters of the BJP are playing a dirty game, which should be stopped. Sometimes you have to see that people’s interest is the greater interest and humanity is greater than anything else. I will appeal to everybody not to do politics and to give justice to the people.” West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh countered Mamata thus: “How can we indulge in politics [over relief distribution] when no relief has been distributed as yet.”