Prime Minister Narendra Modi today praised Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's handling of Cyclone Fani after carrying out an aerial survey this morning to review the damage after the storm that has killed over 30 people in the state. "Naveen babu's planning was excellent," PM Modi told reporters, the Chief Minister standing next to him.
Naveen Patnaik accompanied the Prime Minister on the aerial survey.
"In the middle of a busy election schedule, everyone concerned prioritized this (Cyclone)... I must congratulate the state government, the authorities and those involved in evacuations. The work done is commendable. There has been an excellent coordination between the Centre and the state," said the PM.
In a video tweeted by news agency ANI, PM Modi can be seen discussing details of damage with Mr Patnaik. After the aerial survey, PM Modi held a review meet with the top bureaucrats in the state.
"Another thing that is worthy of praise is the cooperation by the people, especially the fishing community. Generally if you tell people to leave their homes, they are reluctant, but this time the people of Odisha have shown the entire country how to act during an emergency such as a cyclone. I thank the people of Odisha for their tremendous cooperation," the Prime Minister said.
The PM's praise for Naveen Patnaik comes in the middle of the national election campaign, during which he and the ruling BJP have repeatedly attacked the Chief Minister. Mr Patnaik's BJD is a former ally of the BJP and despite their strain over the years, is seen as mostly likely to extend his support if PM Modi's party really needs it.
Almost 1 million people from Odisha were evacuated to nearly 5,000 temporary shelters hours before the cyclone made a landfall in the state on Friday. Over 1,500 buses and thousands of government staff, along with volunteers, managed to complete the exercise late on Thursday night.
PM Narendra Modi conducts aerial survey of #Cyclonefani affected areas in Odisha. Governor Ganeshi Lal, CM Naveen Patnaik and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also present.
PM Narendra Modi conducts aerial survey of #Cyclonefani affected areas in Odisha. Governor Ganeshi Lal, CM Naveen Patnaik and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also present. pic.twitter.com/ZO9XkRC7kK— ANI (@ANI) May 6, 2019
Naveen Patnaik, claiming that no national party will get a majority when the results are declared on May 23, has already maintained that the regional party would play a key role in formation of the next government at the Centre.
Odisha faced simultaneous polls for 21 Lok Sabha and 146 Assembly seats in four phases. Election to Patkura Assembly segment is scheduled to be held on May 19.
The UN agency for disaster reduction has praised the Indian Meteorological Department's "almost pinpoint accuracy" of early warnings that helped authorities conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan.
A spokesperson for UNISDR, Denis McClean, highlighted the "zero-casualty cyclone preparedness policy" of the Indian government.
"The almost pinpoint accuracy of the early warnings from the Indian Meteorological Department had enabled the authorities to conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan, which had involved moving more than one million people into storm shelters," the UN spokesperson was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The powerful cyclone, strongest to hit India in 20 years, hit Odisha with wind speeds of up to 175 kilometres per hour, leading to heavy rainfall and coastal flooding.
The Centre has released Rs. 1,000 crore as cyclone assistance to Odisha. West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh were the other states affected.