KOLKATA: Union Minister Babul Supriyo on Wednesday said no political angle should be given to his intended visit to the coastal areas of South 24 Parganas district which was lashed by cyclone Bulbul, and warned the ruling Trinamool Congress that if he was stopped, it would mean they don't want him to get a first-hand idea of the ground situation.
Supriyo has been directed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to go around cyclone-hit Namkhana, Bokkhali and Fraserganj where the storm left a trail of destruction on Saturday, rendering thousands of people homeless. The Union Minister is scheduled to visit these places later on Wednesday.
However, his planned visit has already generated a political controversy with some district Trinamool leaders saying it would serve no purpose, as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made an aerial visit on Monday itself and also held an administrative meeting on relief and restoration operations.
"My visit should not be viewed with a political prism. In a federal structure, I am entitled to undertake such visits... This should not be viewed as an effort to supervise or gauge the real picture - that is not possible through a day's tour.
"I have heard some local Trinamool leaders have reacted aggressively after coming to know that I am going there. These comments are unwarranted," Supriyo said before leaving for his tour.
Supriyo, a Lok Sabha member from Asansol, said he would see the ground situation. "The Prime Minister has told me to visit those areas where the ten companies of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) sent by the centre are working on the ground."
He said that while the state government is doing its work, and would submit a report to the centre on the damages, he would also inform the Centre about his first-hand experiences.
"The state will give a report on the situation as is the norm. I will also inform Delhi about whatever I see during my visit," the Minister said.
"If I am stopped from visiting any area, then I will have to conclude they don't want me to go there and see for myself the scenario. Otherwise, if I go around the affected areas, talk to the people, I would like to see to what extent they have settled down," he said.
Cyclone Bulbul has claimed 14 lives in three districts - 24 Parganas North, 24 Parganas South and East Midnapore - after it pounded the coastal region of the state for three hours on Saturday night.