PM Modi along with Mamata Banerjee today conducted an aerial survey of the devastation wrought by the super cyclone Amphan over large swathes of West Bengal before landing near a school in Basirhat, 50 Kms from Kolkata airport, where he held a review meeting with the West Bengal chief minister and other officials. Following the review meeting, PM Modi announced through a video message advanced interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for the cyclone-hit West Bengal.
However, shortly after the meeting concluded, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, while talking to the press, claimed that the PM Modi has only assured of financial assistance and there was no clarity as to whether it would be advanced assistance or a package of some sort.
PM Modi clearly said 1000 crore is ‘advanced assistance’— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) May 22, 2020
Look how shamelessly Mamata is lying for her politics pic.twitter.com/SltBw3Forc
While PM Modi said in clear and lucid terms that the centre will be extending an “advance assistance” of Rs 1000 crore for West Bengal to cope with the devastation caused by the cyclone, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee appeared to deliberately muddle the discourse by claiming that there was no clarity on the announcement made by the Prime Minister.
Here’s the announcement made by PM Modi in which explicitly mentions that the centre will be providing an “advance assistance” of Rs 1000 crore to the West Bengal government to help them tide over the destruction caused by the cyclone.
At 4:15 into the above video, PM Modi says, “The Indian government will provide an advance financial assistance of Rs 1000 crore to the West Bengal government to help in the restoration, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the state hit by the cyclone. Rs. 2 lakh would be given to the next of kin of the persons deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the persons who got seriously injured.”
It is also pertinent to note that West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee was seated just some distance away from PM Modi during his briefing and can be seen in the above video as well, implying that the announcements made by PM Modi in his briefing were entirely audible to her.
In fact, shortly after PM Modi announced in his video message that the central government will provide an advance aid of Rs 1000 crore to the West Bengal government, the same was also communicated through the official Twitter handle of the PMO India.
“Rs. 1000 crore advance assurance will be given to West Bengal, ” the official PMO India handle tweeted.
Rs. 1000 crore advance assurance will be given to West Bengal.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 22, 2020
Rs. 2 lakh would be given to the next of kin of the persons deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the persons who got seriously injured due to the cyclone in parts of West Bengal: PM @narendramodi
However, despite PM Modi’s explicit reference to proving advance assistance to West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed in a press briefing after the meeting with PM Modi that there is obscurity on the financial aid announced by the Prime Minister and she was not sure whether it was advance or a part of a package or something else.
At 2:03 into the above video, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee while addressing press questions says, “Prime Minister Modi announced Rs 1000 crore from the emergency fund to provide interim relief to West Bengal but he did not expressly clarify whether it would be advance or a package. He said that we will discuss later on, then he said maybe advance also.”
Despite PM Modi clearly and unambiguously declaring that Rs 1000 crore will be provided to the West Bengal government, the cyclone crisis along with the looming threat posed by the coronavirus outbreak did not deter West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee from playing her petty politics against the central government. By alleging that there was no clarity on the economic assistance provided by the central government, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee attempted to cast the Modi government in an unprepossessing light, apathetic to the plight of victims of the cyclone.