Reacting to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's statement that the Centre had not given anything to the State, West Bengal Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said on Tuesday that instead of “playing politics” the issue of financial assistance could be discussed across the table.

“It is not true that the Centre has not given any assistance. It is quite sympathetic to the financial requirements of the State but it has to submit a requisite plan,” he told The Hindu over telephone from Dakshin Dinajpur district.

To Ms. Banerjee's statement that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had not called on her during her fast on Singur issue in 2006, Mr. Bhattacharya reminded her that Dr. Singh had sent senior Congress leader and Union Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi to the protest venue to meet her.

On farmers' suicides, the PCC chief said that contrary to the State government's view that it was anxiety and mental ailments that were driving them to suicide, the farmers were suffering from agrarian distress, reeling under debts and unable to sell their produce for a fair price.

A delegation of the party leaders met the family members of Dayal Barman, a farmer in the Gazole block of Malda district, who had committed suicide recently.

“The government will have to come up with proper measures on this. By blaming the Congress, farmer suicides cannot be stopped,” Mr. Bhattacharya said.

With the strained relationship between the two allies worsening — a Congress Minister of State has recently resigned from the Council of Ministers after being divested of two departments — the comments of Ms. Banerjee have invited strong criticism from its ally.

“The State government is not addressing the governance deficit but is more interested in petty squabbles, blame game and false statistics,” said Omprakash Mishra, State Congress general secretary said.

The delegation also visited the Malda Medical College and Hospital, where several incidents of crib deaths have been reported.