I have not come to take salutes sitting in an air-conditioned office. I have come to take the salute of the masses: Mamata

Accusing the Congress-led-United Progressive Alliance of engaging in “political vendetta” against the people of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threatened here on Monday to head for New Delhi and lead a demonstration there if the Centre does not restructure the debts incurred during the Left Front regime, which the government is repaying.

“This is my last appeal. You [Centre] have to sort out this issue,” Ms. Banerjee said addressing at an extended general council meeting of the Trinamool Congress meeting here.

“If you don’t do that then I will forget that I am a Chief Minister. I am a commoner, I will go to Delhi and demonstrate there,” she said, adding that the only protocol she abides by is the “protocol of the masses”.

About one crore people from West Bengal and other States would participate in the protests to highlight the Trinamool Congress’s strength, Ms. Banerjee said.

“Remember, I have not come to take salutes sitting in an air-conditioned office. I have come to take the salute of the masses,” she added.

Underscoring the federal structure in the country, she said: “Just as you preside over the Central government, similarly we preside over the State government.”

She said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress had assured the State at a rally during the 2009 general election campaign that it would restructure debts if the Congress led-UPA government came to power.

“Did the Prime Minister not say at a rally in Dum Dum that the debt on the State will be restructured?” Ms. Banerjee asked party leaders.

“If you deduct all the money of the people [the State’s earnings] there will be protests a thousand times,” she said.

Exhorting the party workers in at the extended general council meeting to strengthen the party organisation in other States, the Trinamool Congress chairperson reiterated her ambitions to play a prominent role at the national politics.

“Today you are for Bengal. Tomorrow you will be for the rest of the country,” she told the leaders, adding that the Trinamool Congress would contest Lok Sabha polls from States other than West Bengal.

“The Trinamool Congress is a dedicated and transparent party… slowly try to extend party activities in your State,” she said, designating charge of certain States to prominent leaders of her party.