West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh was on Saturday stopped by police from visiting the cyclone-ravaged areas of the South 24 Parganas district, triggering a war of words between the saffron party and the ruling TMC. Ghosh was on his way to Canning and Basanti, two of the many areas of the district affected by cyclone Amphan, to distribute relief materials. His car was stopped by the police at Dhalai bridge near Garia area of the district.
"I don't know why I have been stopped from visiting the cyclone-affected areas. The TMC leaders are visiting these places and distributing relief materials. The police is not stopping them. The rule only changes for the BJP leaders," Ghosh said.
Ghosh threatened to organise a sit-in, if he was not allowed to go to the affected areas. "If the state government wants to pursue relief politics, they should get ready for a befitting reply from our workers," he said. The BJP workers accompanying Ghosh had a mild scuffle with the police personnel, and they pushed the men in uniform to pave the way for the vehicle of the party's state president. When contacted, the police declined to comment.
Kolkata Mayor and state minister Firhad Hakim wondered why the state BJP was keen on doing politics over the distribution of relief materials. Ghosh had on Friday demanded that the assistance should be credited to the bank accounts of the people, affected by cyclone Amphan, to avoid siphoning of money.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday visited Cyclone-hit Odisha and West Bengal and took an aerial survey of the areas worst affected. He announced Rs.500 crore as advance assistance to Odisha and Rs 1000 crore for advance immediate assistance of West Bengal. He also declared ex-gratia of Rs.2 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs.50,000 for the seriously injured in both the states. The Prime Minister said that a team will be sent by the Central Government to conduct a detailed survey about the damage caused due to the Cyclone and the current situation of the affected areas.
Cyclone Amphan which reported winds up to 190 kmph made landfall at the Digha coast of West Bengal at 2.30 pm on Wednesday, hitting Kolkata a few hours later. There were widespread power cuts in large parts of Kolkata, North 24 Paraganas, and South Paraganas. Mobile, internet services, and electricity were also down in parts as the cyclone had damaged several communication towers and the electrical grid. Till Saturday, 81 people have died due to the Cyclone.