Rejecting Trinamool Congress’ claims that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not phone Mamata Banerjee to enquire about Cyclone Fani updates, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday said that two attempts were made to reach the West Bengal Chief Minister but she didn’t respond.
Sources said the PMO staff had twice tried to connect the Prime Minister to the West Bengal CM on phone, but on both occasions, she didn’t return the call.
“The first time, the staff who were attempting to place the call were told that the West Bengal CM is on tour, and the call will be returned. On the second occasion too, the staff attempting to place the call were told by the CM's office that the call will be returned,” officials told News18 on the condition of anonymity.
The Trinamool Congress had on Saturday hit out at PM Modi for calling West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi instead of talking to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to inquire about the ground situation in the wake of cyclone Fani, and alleged Modi doesn't respect the federal structure of the country.
"This is an attack on a federal structure and a deviation from the Constitution. By calling the Governor he has acted as leader of BJP and not as a Prime Minister. How can he deny the mandate of our people? Mamata Banerjee is the elected chief minister of Bengal. This is unfortunate," TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said.
“We have no problem that PM called the governor to enquire about the ground level situation. But only Chief Minister and state government officials can give him the real picture at the ground level", said another senior TMC leader.
As West Bengal braced for cyclone Fani's landfall, the prime minister spoke to the Governor of the state, Keshari Nath Tripathi, on Saturday to know about situation prevailing on the ground in the state.
During his conversation with Tripathi, the Prime Minister reiterated the Centre's readiness to provide all help needed to cope with the extremely severe cyclonic storm.
"Also conveyed my solidarity with the people of Bengal in the wake of Cyclone Fani," Modi said in a tweet.
BJP and the TMC are locked in an intense political battle in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections and the current round of bickering could be seen as a part of this.
Fani barrelled through Odisha on Friday, unleashing copious rain and windstorm that gusted up to 175 kmph, killing at least eight people, blowing away thatched houses and swamping towns and villages, officials said. But the state’s preparedness in dealing with the cyclone and containing the death toll to single digits has come for widespread praise.