A day after the Congress sought to reach out to its allies, party general secretary M. Shakeel Ahmed on Saturday called on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata to discuss ‘things important to the State and general national scenario’
Emerging from a meeting with Ms. Banerjee, which lasted for about 45 minutes, Mr. Ahmed told reporters, “It is a courtesy call. We discussed things which are important to West Bengal and the general national scenario.”
Trinamool Congress general secretary and Union Minister Mukul Roy, a close associate of Ms. Banerjee, was also present in the meeting at the State secretariat.
Asked whether the upcoming Rajya Sabha poll was discussed, Mr. Ahmed said “only a passing reference was made.”
The Congress leader sought to downplay the invitation extended by Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal to Ms. Banerjee requesting her to attend his swearing-in ceremony.
“In politics there are human relations and nothing much should be read into this. We are also getting invitations from others,” he said.
Asked to comment on Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi’s remark that the country might head for a mid-term poll, Mr. Ahmed said “the minister has already clarified everything and I have nothing much to say in this regard.”
Mr. Ahmed said that he congratulated Ms. Banerjee for the surrender of the top Maoist leader Suchitra Mahato yesterday.
“Running a ruined State’
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister said that she was running a ‘ruined State which none would have bought even at an auction’
“None would have bought the State we are running, ruined and bankrupt after 35 years of Left Front, even at an auction,” she said.
Claiming that the Centre had not sanctioned a ‘single paise’ to help the State, Ms. Banerjee said she only knew how difficult it was to run a government without any financial assistance.
“They (Centre) are taking away Rs. 22,000 crore from our treasury as interest and repayment for the huge debt burden the Left Front left behind while our revenue collection is Rs. 21,000 crore,” she said.
“Where shall we get the money? We inherited empty coffers when we took over. Am I a god that I can wish for what I want?” she asked.
She pointed out that despite the acute fund crunch, government employees were getting their salary every month.