CM says debt was legacy of previous Left Front Govt

The West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief, Ms Mamata Banerjee, on Saturday said that her party would meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh to demand interest waiver on a debt of over Rs 2 lakh crore.

The State Government had earlier urged the Centre to waive an annual interest of Rs 22,000-crore on these loans.

“We have been requesting (the Centre) for a waiver on the interest burden for the next three years. If the Centre does not pay heed to our request, then all our MPs and MLAs will meet the Prime Minister,” she .

According to Ms Banerjee, loans were taken by the previous Left Front Government and hence, getting a moratorium was within her rights.

“I am not asking for any pity. This debt is not my making. I do not understand why they are still denying us our due,” she said.

Issuing a stern warning, Ms Banerjee said, “If Delhi continues to deprive us, we will not bow our head. Bengal knows how to extract its demand.”

Panchayat Elections

Meanwhile, Ms Banerjee announced the rescheduling of panchayat elections in the State. While she did not specify the time, she said panchayat elections would be held after Puja. Panchayat elections are scheduled to be held in May 2013.

“We have to usher in real development in rural areas. Remove the CPI (M) from those rural bodies where they have stalled development,” Ms Banerjee said, justifying her move.

According to Ms Banerjee, her party, despite being an ally of the UPA at the Centre, would “fight alone” in the State. She, however, did not specify whether she was referring to panchayat elections.

Growth rate

Dismissing claims that West Bengal did not have a proper atmosphere for investment, Ms Banerjee said the State’s growth rate was above the national average.

According to Ms Banerjee, the State’s growth rate in 2011-12 stood at 15.1 per cent – almost a percentage point higher than the national growth rate.

“In the last one year, we have managed to have investments worth Rs 1 lakh crore,” she said.

shoba.roy@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 22, 2012)
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