Mamata, chief secy insulted PM by not attending cyclone review meeting: Suvendu

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(Eds: Adds details) Kolkata, May 29 (PTI) Leader of the opposition in West Bengal assembly Suvendu Adhikari on Saturday alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the chief secretary have insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by not attending a meeting chaired by him to discuss the ravages caused by Cyclone Yaas.

Claiming that Banerjee questioned his presence in the meeting held at Kalaikunda airbase in Paschim Medinipur district on Friday, Adhikari said that he was invited to it as the leader of opposition in the state assembly and the MLA of cyclone-affected Nandigram.

Banerjee did not attend the meeting but entered the conference room where Modi was holding it and submitted a report to him on the damages caused by the cyclone in the state, and sought a Rs 20,000 crore package for redevelopment of the worst-hit areas.

She was accompanied by Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay. A few hours after the meeting, the Centre ordered his transfer to Delhi.

Adhikari, a BJP MLA, told reporters that he is at a loss for words 'to criticise the way the West Bengal chief minister and the chief secretary insulted the prime minister.' He said that Modi waited for quite some time for the West Bengal chief minister to attend the meeting.

'The chief minister entered the room, and the prime minister, the governor and the central ministers and we stood up to greet her,' Adhikari told reporters in a virtual press conference.

He claimed that Banerjee was there for a minute and a half, handed over some papers on the state's demands and proposals and left with the chief secretary saying that she had prior engagements in Digha.

'What happened is unprecedented in the country and the chief secretary may have been compelled to do so,' he said.

He alleged that Banerjee has insulted the prime minister on several earlier occasions by remaining absent in meetings on Covid management and the National Ganga Council.

On Banerjee's argument that why 'BJP leaders' were present at the meeting which was supposed to be between the prime minister and the chief minister, Adhikari said that he was invited to the session as the leader of opposition and the MLA of Nandigram which was affected by Cyclone Yaas.

'She is trying to show her arrogance and petty politics by her stance,' he said.

Adhikari said that Banerjee may have qualms about accepting him as the leader of the opposition in the assembly as she lost to him in the election.

'A non-MLA chief minister has no right to insult an elected representative of people and recognised leader of the opposition in the assembly,' he said.

Banerjee has claimed that opposition leaders were not invited to similar review meetings held in Gujarat and Odisha, states that also faced cyclone fury recently.

Adhikari, however, said that the leader of the opposition in Odisha, who is from the BJP, was also invited to attend the review meeting but could not do it as he is affected by Covid-19.

The Nandigram MLA also claimed that Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Adhir Chowdhury, who hails from West Bengal, was also asked to be present at the meeting, but he failed to attend it as he was in New Delhi.

'Despite being the chief minister of a state, she may not abide by the Constitution, but it is the duty of the prime minister to protect the Constitution,' Adhikari said.

Banerjee should keep in mind that if her party, the Trinamool Congress, has got the votes of 2.87 crore people in the recent assembly election, 2.27 crore people also voted for the BJP, he said.

Adhikari said that the chief minister need not beg Modi to seek the revocation of the chief secretary's transfer order, but should abide by the Constitution and give respect to the prime minister.

Addressing a press conference earlier in the day, Banerjee said that she was ready to touch Modi's feet if told to do so for the sake of West Bengal's growth and development.

'Recalling the chief secretary amid the COVID crisis goes on to show that the Centre was indulging in political vendetta,' Banerjee said.

Adhikari alleged that the chief minister has forced IAS and IPS officers in the state to violate protocol.

Banerjee thinks that West Bengal is a country of which she is the prime minister, he claimed.

He said that Banerjee was criticised for her act across the country.

BJP leaders, including several Union ministers, on Friday hit out at Banerjee for skipping the meeting, with party president J P Nadda accusing her of 'murder of constitutional ethos and the culture of cooperative federalism.' PTI AMR NN NN

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