‘We never demanded special package, but only what the State deserves’

Alleging that Centre is enforcing an “economic blockade” against West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said here on Monday that she will seek “justice” from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi.

Ms. Banerjee will meet Dr. Singh and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia separately on Tuesday. She will also meet Finance Minister P Chidambaram the following day.

Ms. Banerjee is hopeful of extracting financial assistance from the Centre given Mr Chidambaram’s assurance to the Samajwadi Party leadership recently that it would stand by the Uttar Pradesh government in its development efforts.

 “If something does not emerge even after the meeting then we will decide on our next course of action,” she said.  Asked by journalists whether she is seeking a special package from the Centre, she said that her “government has never demanded a special package” and is only asking for “what the State deserves.”

 Ms. Banerjee said that her government had sought a three-year moratorium on interest of loan payment, a demand that is being raised by the Trinamool Congress leadership over the past few months.

  “We are not begging from anybody. Of the Rs. 40,000 crore collected from the State by the Centre in form of taxes the State government gets only Rs. 18,000 crore,” she said.

 Pointing out that money for repayment of loans and interest on loans is deducted from the State exchequer, “unilaterally,” Ms. Banerjee said that while Rs. 21,000 crore were deducted in 2011-12 it went up to Rs. 25,000 crore in the last fiscal.

 “The most debt-stressed States are Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal but our situation is far worse than the other two States. I have nothing against the restructuring of the debts of Kerala and Punjab but West Bengal should not be deprived,” Ms Banerjee said.