West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, a day after she was accused by senior BJP leaders of skipping a review meeting chaired by Modi to take stock of the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas.
Banerjee accused the BJP of playing a “dirty game” and carrying out “political vendetta” following its poll debacle in the recently ended assembly elections after the Centre on Friday recalled the state’s chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay to Delhi.
“If the PM tells me to touch his feet and in return promises to help Bengal, I am ready to do that. But please don’t humiliate and insult me. Please stop playing this dirty game. The PMO was giving out one-sided manipulated news,” Banerjee said.
On Friday, the BJP’s top leaders, including the party’s national president JP Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah, uploaded pictures of the PM’s meeting with empty chairs while accusing the CM of skipping the review meeting.
“Mamata Didi’s conduct today is an unfortunate low. Cyclone Yaas has affected several common citizens and the need of the hour is to assist those affected. Sadly, Didi has put arrogance above public welfare and today’s petty behaviour reflects that,” Shah tweeted.
“I felt bad the way I was insulted and humiliated yesterday with fake news being planted by the PMO while central ministers echoed the same lie as parrots. While we were working in cyclone-hit areas trying to save people, they were busy in maligning us,” she said.
“They are giving out pictures of empty chairs. Where is the photo of the Prime Minister sitting and I was standing next to him and bowing down to speak to him,” adding that she left after taking the PM’s permission.
Mamata refuted the allegations of skipping the PM’s meeting saying that her flight could take off 20 minutes after its scheduled departure, only after the PM’s flight landed at Kalaikunda. At Kalaikunda too her flight had to hover for 10-15 minutes, she said.
“There were political leaders who were not entitled to attend a meeting between the PM and the CM. Initially the meeting was scheduled between the PM and CM. Later it was revised and central ministers, the governor and an MLA (BJP) who is leader of the opposition were included. It was a big BJP party,” she added. “You always create some confusion and confrontation in Bengal. Why are you behaving like this? Is it just because we returned to power with a sweeping victory? Why don’t you accept the people’s mandate? Do you want to bulldoze the federal structure? Is there a martial rule for West Bengal and another law for the remaining states?” she said.
The TMC swept to power for the third consecutive term after a high-pitched poll battle, winning 213 of the 292 assembly seats where elections were held. The BJP which had set a target to win more than 200 seats could only manage 77.
The chief minister urged the Centre to withdraw the letter in which it had recalled the state’s chief secretary to Delhi but hinted that the matter may end up in a court battle.
BJP leaders hit back saying earlier too bureaucrats were transferred. “I do not understand this hullabaloo over Alapon Bandyopadhyay’s transfer to centre! He belongs to IAS, an All-India service. Such officers are transferred from time to time as a routine measure. Sanjay Mitra, a previous CS was similarly transferred and posted as Defence Secretary!” tweeted Tathagata Roy, veteran BJP leader and former governor or Tripura.