Peeved Mamata hits out at UPA (Lead)

July 31st, 2011 - 12:28 am ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, July 30 (IANS) Apparently peeved over the central government not yet providing money to bail out cash-strapped West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday hit out at the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime on several issues, including rising prices and black money.

Adopting a belligerent tone, Banerjee said she was almost made to cry while seeking cabinet approval for projects like Metro Railway extension, and alleged that union ministers of state from her party were not being allowed to work.

She also attacked union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s reported comment that he cannot give funds to her government by going beyond constitutional provisions, and asserted the state was only “demanding its due” and not begging.

Banerjee took particular exception to Mukherjee’s comment reported in a section of the media that he could not dole out money like emperor Mohammad Bin Tughlaq.

“The ‘Tughlaq’ comment is not acceptable. I can bear everything but not the insult of people of Bengal. This comment has not gone down well with me. All these years (34 years of Left Front rule in the state) there was nothing Tughlaqi. We have just been in power for 70 days, how can now helping us be Tughlaqi?” said Banerjee in an interview to a Bengali news channel Star Ananda.

“We are watching everything,” she said, in an apparent warning to the UPA government.

She also went to the extent of accusing the Congress led by Narasimha Rao in the 1990s of being hand in glove with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) “when the latter physically beat me up”. She said she did not believe that the Congress and the CPI-M were not in contact now.

Banerjee alleged that the rising prices have become unbearable.

“With the constant rise in petroleum prices, the prices of other commodities have also been rising. The way the prices have been increasing, it has become impossible to bear. I have tolerated it for the past two years but it is not possible to endure any more.”

“In spite of the difficult financial situation, I have said my government will not levy excess cess or taxes. I have not increased electricity charges or milk prices despite pressure to increase them. No matter how much I am criticised, I will continue to think about the people.” said Banerjee.

Continuing her attack, she said: “Many a government has increased prices after the conclusion of elections. During the polls, they do not increase prices. But as soon as it is over, governments have increased the prices, be it the NDA or the incumbent UPA.”

Flaying the central government on the black money issue, she regretted that her frequent pleas in cabinet meetings to bring back to the country the illegal money stashed in foreign accounts went unheeded.

“There is so much money stashed illegally in foreign banks. If that money is brought back, it can be used to subsidise things. Petroleum prices won’t have to be increased. I have repeatedly raised the issue while in cabinet but nobody paid heed.”

“I don’t know why the government is not bringing the money back. Don’t know what money is in there?”

She also accused the UPA of being non-cooperative.

“Union ministers of state from my party, including Dinesh Trivedi, were not allowed to work. When I was in the union cabinet, I was never informed about the proceedings that happened in my absence.”

“I was almost on the verge of crying while seeking approval for the Metro Railway extension project from Joka (in Kolkata’s southern outskirts). Only I know what all I had to hear in cabinet meetings.”

Refering to the alleged physical assault on her by the CPI-M in the 1999s, she said: “The CPI-M had beaten me up in understanding with Narasimha Rao”.

“I didn’t understand it then. Later I understood. That’s the reason I later came out of the Congress and formed Trinamool Congress.”

Asked whether she felt that the Congress was still in collusion with the CPI-M, Banerjee replied: “A relationship once forged does not die down completely. Maybe now that they (CPI-M) are out of power (in West Bengal and Kerala), the understanding is not there overtly. But I don’t believe there is no contact between them.”

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