“We are having to meet debts left behind by CPI(M),” says Chief Minister

A day after she told some television channels that the Centre did not give West Bengal any financial assistance despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's promise before the 2011 Assembly polls, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said she was not “blaming” anyone but only “trying to explain the situation.”

“I am not blaming anyone but trying to explain the situation…. my government finds itself in a situation where it is having to bear the burdens of the sins committed by the previous Left Front government,” she said at a rally at Gosaba in South 24 Parganas district on the first day of her two-day visit to the Sunderbans.

“We are having to meet the debts left behind by the CPI(M). For every rupee we have to spend 94 paise in repayment of loans and disbursement of salaries, which leaves us with only 6 paise for development purposes,” she said.

Ms. Banerjee charged the Left Front with “taking the State to ruin” when in power. It also engaged in “corruption and loot,” she alleged.

“Out of power now, the CPI(M) is spreading canards and lies against our government. I too have been in the Opposition but never incited riots or spread canards to confuse the people,” she said.

“You did not do anything for 34 years [when in power]. Now sit back in your homes and keep quiet for 34 years …. What our government has achieved in eight months, the CPI(M), the Left Front, will not be able to do in 800 years,” she said.

The Chief Minister accused the previous Left Front government of having failed to spend Central funds for restoration work in the Sunderbans after cyclone Aila ravaged the region in May 2009. Alleging that no shelters were provided for people at the time of a severe storm or cyclone, she said there was no development since the disaster.

She said her visit was to see the far-flung areas for herself, listen to the people and their needs. “There can be no effective planning without a first-hand understanding of the ground realities.”

Development projects

The Chief Minister announced a slew of development projects for the Sunderbans. They included schemes to improve connectivity, provide electricity to homes, arrange piped drinking water supply to homes and promote tourism which, in turn, would generate employment.