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‘Keep Politics Out, Work together’, Urges Mamata Banerjee as Cyclone Fani Looms Over Bengal Elections

Over 10 lakh people were evacuated to temporary shelters in Odisha as Cyclone Fani, made a landfall on Friday close to the temple town of Puri.

Aniruddha Ghosal | News18.com@aniruddhg1

Updated:May 3, 2019, 4:09 PM IST
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‘Keep Politics Out, Work together’, Urges Mamata Banerjee as Cyclone Fani Looms Over Bengal Elections
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses an election rally. (Image : PTI).

New Delhi: Polling is yet to take place in three phases in West Bengal areas that are on high alert due to cyclone Fani. The impact of this powerful tropical storm might disturb the election schedule, said sources in the Bengal secretariat even as chief minister Mamata Banerjee urged everyone to “work together”, while keeping “humanism in mind”.

Over 10 lakh people were evacuated to temporary shelters in Odisha as Fani, the most severe cyclonic storm since the super cyclone of 1999, made a landfall on Friday close to the temple town of Puri.

The Meteorological department warned of very heavy rainfall and “phenomenal sea conditions”. The wind speed is expected to be between 170 and 180 km an hour, which can even reach up to 200 km at the time of landfall.

Earlier, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that she had cancelled her political rallies for the next 48 hours in view of the cyclone and asked people to stay indoors and safe. “The next few days, we need to work together. Not with politics in mind, but with humanism and with the view to keep people safe. This is my request to everyone that we seek to help those in need,” Banerjee told News18 Bangla.

The state government had sounded an alert in the coastal districts of East Midnaore and South 24 Parganas and other areas of south Bengal including West Midnapore, North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogly, Jhargram and Sunderbans.

This entire area is yet to go to polls. The next phase on May 6 is scheduled to see polls in Howrah and Hooghly. The sixth phase – on May 12 – is scheduled to see polling in Tamluk, Contai, Ghatal, Jhargram and in east and West Midnapore. The seventh phase – on May 19 – will focus on the seats in and around Kolkata, including the Diamond Harbour seat in the Sunderban area.

“This belt in south Bengal is vulnerable to cyclonic shifts. No one is thinking about the election right now, since our focus is on the people of the state. But there is a high probability that this might impact the elections,” said an official.

The Met department said that by the time the storm enters West Bengal, the speed of cyclone Fani will dip to 100-110 kmph. But the effect of Fani has begun with heavy downpour in Kolkata.

Banerjee, meanwhile, told the media in a press conference that “control rooms” had been opened in each and every district to monitor the situation 24X7. Banerjee is staying at Kharagpur in the West Midnapore district for the next two days to supervise the situation. A committee has been formed under chief secretary Malay Kumar De to monitor the impact of the cyclone, said officials.

In the next three hours, cyclone Fani is expected to weaken with a wind speed of 150-160 km per hour. Subsequently, it will weaken and move north-northeastwards. By evening, it may weaken into a severe cyclonic storm over the extreme northern part of Odisha, Mrityunjay Mohapatra, the IMD, Delhi said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

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