Amidst the devastation caused by super Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal, infighting within the ruling Trinamool Congress was out in the open on Tuesday after senior minister Sadhan Pande blamed the party-run Kolkata Municipal Corporation for their lack of planning to deal with the aftermath of the cyclone.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, state Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pandey, targeting Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, said the crisis could have been handled in a much better way. “Had there been proper planning, the cyclone crisis could have been averted in a much better way. There was no proper planning. None of us was also consulted on how this crisis could be dealt with in a much better way,” Pandey said.
State Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pandey said the Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Firhad Hakim, should have convened a meeting of senior party functionaries after the cyclone ravaged the metropolis.
Asking for the resignation, Pandey said anybody who fails to perform should resign from his post. “The chairman of KMC did not call any meeting of the MLAs of the city. Firhad Hakim should have consulted his predecessor Sovan Chatterjee,” he alleged.
Pandey attacked Mayor Hakim for failing to restore power and water supply
The internal rift within the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress came out in the open after several residents of the state had protested demanding restoration of power and water supply in several cyclone-hit parts of West Bengal. West Bengal’s Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pandey also slammed Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) administrator Firhad Hakim for failing to restore power and water supply to several parts of the city till now. Pandey said, “Firhad Hakim should have prepared enough when the alert for the cyclone was sounded. Now he cannot say ‘enough is enough’ and put the blame on the CESC officials.”
Hakim hits back at Minister Pandey
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress leader and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim hit back at Minister Pandey by saying it was easy to lecture others by sitting inside AC rooms. Hakim said that it was not the time for him to consult each and every individual in this crisis and added that the minister should have been on the streets to resolve issues of the people rather than attending closed-door meetings.
“I think that such times of devastation, I should be out solving people’s problems instead of conducting meetings. I would rather appreciate people like her (pointing towards a sweeper) who is not sitting in a chamber for meetings, but working hard to clear the roads of Kolkata,” said Firhad Hakim. Pandey should have reached out to him directly if he had any suggestion on the matter, the outgoing Kolkata Mayor added.
Reportedly, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has completed its five-year tenure. However, elections are postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the state government has appointed a board of administrators, with the members of the freshly-defunct mayor-in-council as its members and Firhad Hakim, who was the Mayor and also the state urban development minister, as the chairman of the board.
The Cyclone Amphan has wrecked large parts of Kolkata and adjoining districts of South and North 24-Parganas on May 20. The devastating Super cyclone has claimed 86 lives in the state so far.
Following the cyclone, electricity and essential services were badly hit in various parts of the state. Large scale protests in several parts of the state had occurred demanding restoration of drinking water supply and electricity.