Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday after arriving in Kolkata on a two day-visit. The meeting at the Raj Bhavan came amid a bitter face-off between PM Modi’s BJP and Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that has triggered massive protests across India.
“It was a courtesy call since he has come to Bengal. I told the Prime Minister that people of the state are not accepting the CAA, NRC (National Register of Citizens) and NPR (National Population Register). I asked him to rethink these steps,” Ms Banerjee said.
The Chief Minister, one of the strongest critics of the new law, said PM Modi asked her to come for a meeting in Delhi on the issues since he had come to Bengal for other programmes.
“I also reminded him that the centre owes around Rs 38,000 crore to Bengal including Rs 7,000 crore as relief for Cyclone Bulbul,” Ms Banerjee said.
The PM is on a packed weekend visit to the Bengal capital for a number of inaugurations and ceremonies. He is likely to share the stage twice with Ms Banerjee who has been invited to two of the events, sources said.
PM Modi was received by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, state municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh and other senior BJP leaders at the airport which saw protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act outside the gate.
A huge security arrangement is being put in place in view of protests threatened by numerous outfits against the Prime Minister over the new citizenship law.
The Prime Minister’s first engagement is the inauguration of four recently refurbished heritage buildings in Kolkata – the Currency Building, Belvedere House, Metcalfe House, and the Victoria Memorial Hall. The event will take place at the Old Currency building around 5:30 pm.
At 7 pm, PM Modi will go to Kolkata’s landmark Millenium Park on the banks of river Hooghly and kick off celebrations of 150 years of the Kolkata Port Trust, India’s oldest operational port. Ms Banerjee has been invited for the programme.
Sources say the most spectacular item the Prime Minister will inaugurate is a new lighting system for Kolkata’s iconic Howrah Bridge.