She reiterated her long-standing demand for a three-year moratorium on interest payment so that the state could move ahead with its development agenda
Painting a grim financial situation for West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said the central government was taking away all its revenue income in the form of interest payment on loans taken by the erstwhile Left Front government and urged people to raise a voice of protest.
Urging “students, youths, priests, imams and all sections of people” to unite and raise a voice of protest against the Centre, she reiterated her long-standing demand for a three-year moratorium on interest payment so that the state could move ahead with its development agenda.
Speaking at a government programme aimed at giving sops to Muslims through various schemes ahead of the crucial panchayat elections, Ms Banerjee said, “We have many plans for welfare of the people, but we do not have enough money left after paying Rs 22,000 crore annually as interest. We told the Centre we do not need its mercy. Are we beggars?”
She emphasised that the Centre cannot shirk its responsibility in allowing the previous CPI(M)-led government to borrow massive loans during its 35 years of rule.
“The previous CPI(M) government kept on borrowing and leading to the present acute financial crisis in the state and the Centre remained silent all through and did not protest.
Steps should have been taken at that time,” she observed.
“We have no way to borrow now at a time when we have no money to provide food through rations to the people and even to fund the schemes for people belonging to the minority community and the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe,” she said.
She regretted that the previous government was permitted to borrow “as many number of times as it required”, but when her government took over, “we are told we cannot borrow”.
“They have set the Lakshman Rekha of Reserve Bank,” she said referring to the state’s liquidity crunch which compelled it to survive on overdrafts from the RBI.
Questioning why the Centre did not force the erstwhile LF government to introduce Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, the chief minister said “at that time you did not raise this (FRBM) issue”.
Turning her attention to the media, Ms Banerjee alleged that in the last several months it became clear that a section of the media had been raising issues for their own vested interests and the sole purpose behind it was to tarnish the image of the present government through misinformation and concocted stories.
“It is being done to serve the interests of the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist),” she alleged accusing some pro-CPI (M) channels of working to malign the government.
“I am neither Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee, nor BJP and nor the Congress to succumb. Write whatever you wish”, she said.
She also made it plain that her government would not remove land ceiling, nor would it go for forcible acquisition of land for industry.