West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shared a dais with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — at the centenary session of the Indian Science Congress — for the first time since her party withdrew from the United Progressive Alliance government in September last year.
The two leaders had smiles for each other and had a brief exchange of words even as Ms. Banerjee sought the Centre’s special attention for West Bengal while addressing the congregation.
“Look …. Please look at Bengal. If Bengal is developing, then India is developing,” Ms. Banerjee said, as Dr. Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee looked on.
Ms. Banerjee’s remark was construed by the Pradesh Congress leadership as a reiteration of her long-standing demand for a special financial package for West Bengal, prompting it to criticise her for expressing such views in presence of a gathering of international scientists.
“We are hurt that Ms. Banerjee made such comments at a gathering comprising thousands of scientists. If she had to raise the issue she could have done so at the National Development Council meeting last month which she did not attend,” senior State Congress leader Manas Bhunia said.
Union Minister of State for Urban Development Deepa Dasmunsi said that Ms. Banerjee had the habit of making such comments at events where she gets an opportunity to share the stage with the Prime Minister.
While urging for greater Central attention to West Bengal, Ms. Banerjee also appealed to Dr. Singh to allocate more funds to researchers.