West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that the Centre “does not consider people to be people,” and accused it of “emptying the State’s treasury of the last paisa without even asking us.”
“In a year-and-seven months [that the Trianmool Congress government has been in power] we have not got a single paisa [from the Centre],” Ms. Banerjee said. On numerous occasions in the past she has directed her ire at the Centre for not bailing the State out of its fiscal distress, caused by the massive debt her government inherited.
The Trinamool chairperson was also critical of the Centre for the frequent hike in the prices of petrol and diesel, the rise in fertilizer prices, the ceiling imposed on the availability of cooking gas cylinders at subsidised rates as well as of its recent decision to increase railway fares.
“It is the Centre that raised the fertilizer prices, we did not,” she said at a rally at Burdwan, the headquarters of a district that is considered the rice bowl of West Bengal, but whose bifurcation is on the cards. Her government has plans to set up a fertilizer factory in the State in the interests of the farmer, she added.
Under mounting criticism by the Opposition parties for the growing lawlessness in the State, which they allege is impeding development, Ms. Banerjee urged people “not to pay heed to [the] canards” being spread against her government.
Her remarks, which came on the heels of Governor M.K. Narayanan’s remarks here on Wednesday on “goondaism” in the State, are significant considering that they came ahead of the upcoming rural polls. It was with an eye on the polls that she announced a slew of development projects and sops for minorities at her rally in Burdwan, as well as at the one she addressed earlier in the day in Asansol.
Stating that she did not make false election promises, Ms. Banerjee claimed that her government had in less than two years in power worked towards achieving “double” of what her party had committed in its election manifesto for the 2011 Assembly polls.
“Let there be competition in work done, in progress made,” she said, comparing the performance of the Left Front in its 34 years in power and her government’s that assumed office in May 2011. “It is those who did not do any work in 34 years who are spreading the canards [against her government] … There is a limit to lying.”