Denied of any relief by the UPA-II government, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday pinned her hopes on the new Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre for a positive response on the state’s huge debt repayment problem.
“The central government has been deducting a lot of money on interest repayment and we had told them several times about it. The move is hampering our development process. We have to bear the burden of increased prices of petrol and diesel too. Let’s see what the new government does about it,” Mamata said.
She was addressing a gathering after releasing 50 new buses under JNNURM at a function held at Nabanna, the state secretariat, in the morning.
Incidentally that was the only time she referred to the new government. Mamata had indulged in one of the most vitriolic war of words with Modi in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections terming him ‘Danga Babu’ (Mr Riot) and accusing him trying to drive a wedge between Bengali.
In the evening, when after a cabinet meeting, during a press conference The Indian Express sought her response on the formation of the new government at the centre and her expectations from it, Mamata turned angry. “I can not satisfy you. This is my press conference and I will decide what questions I will answer and what I will not,” she said before leaving the press conference for the chief minister’s office.
Mamata had sent state finance minister Amit Mitra and party general secretary Mukul Roy to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Modi in Delhi.
In the morning, after releasing the 50 buses, she said 874 new buses would be on the roads very soon. “We have talked to the 14th Finance Commission for more money but we don’t know how much we will get,” she said while pointing out that the serious fund constraints facing the state was posing difficulties in continuing subsidies to different state transport corporations in Bengal.
The debt-burdened state government had in November last year placed a proposal before the 14th Finance Commission demanding Rs 2,55,000 crore for five years (2015-20) to improve the state’s physical and social infrastructure and various development works.
Despite repeated meetings with the previous UPA government on the proposed moratorium on repayment of the state’s debt, the Trinamool Congress government failed to exact any assurance which left it dissatisfied.
The outgoing union finance minister P Chidambaram had on March 23 rejected Mamata’s charges that step-motherly treatment was being meted out to the state saying there was no discrimination as central funds were allocated as per recommendations of the Finance Commission.
The state had been pressing for a three-year moratorium on its debt servicing loan payment.
BJP president Rajnath Singh at a rally here in February had accused the CPI(M) of reducing West Bengal economy to a state of bankruptcy and supported Mamata’s demand for the moratorium. He had also urged the UPA government to accept the demand. With PTI