The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM not shopping at PMO
- Buddha pins hope on a more responsive Centre

Calcutta, May 31: Fresh from his meeting with Manmohan Singh, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today he would not burden the Prime Minister with demands just because the communists are backing the Congress-led government at the Centre.

“The PMO is not a shopping mall. Just because we’re endorsing the common minimum programme doesn’t mean I’ll burden the Prime Minister all the time. I’m not the one to ask for my pound of flesh,” Bhattacharjee said at Writers’ Buildings.

The chief minister said he would take up Bengal’s pending projects with the ministries concerned instead of bothering Singh all the time.

He mentioned a plethora of problems that were awaiting the Centre’s redress since 1999 — erosion by the Ganga, closure of jute mills, cash crunch and low interest rates on small savings.

Bhattacharjee said he met the Prime Minister to “gauge his views on agriculture, industry and infrastructure”, adding that he was hopeful the state’s demands would be met by the ministries concerned.

The NDA government, he said, did not do much to address the problems pending with it for years. “We had 14 to 15 specific problems that needed the Centre’s intervention but they were not looked into.”

Bhattacharjee showed water resources minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi letters he had written to the Centre over the years when he called on him on Thursday. “The letters speak volumes about our problems that were not addressed,” he told the Union minister.

During his visit to the state last week, Das Munshi had indicated a central team would interact with state officials to discuss steps to prevent erosion. Irrigation and water resource development officials in the state are said to be getting ready for the meeting, proposed some time next month, to work out ways to repair embankments of the Ganga and the Padma.

After a two-hour meeting with the district magistrates to review the law and order situation, the chief minister ordered them to arrest miscreants irrespective of their political affiliations. “I want you to round up the criminals as soon as you get complaints from people. Don’t look at political affiliations,” he is learnt to have told them.

He also took stock of development work and rural electrification. Chief secretary Asok Gupta and the secretaries of power, municipal affairs, panchayat and food departments were among those present. Bhattacharjee asked the officers to identify areas where development work has to be carried out on war footing.

“We have identified seven or eight sectors, including rice procurement, rural electrification, crop diversification, drinking water, sanitation and mid-day meal, where emphasis has to be laid,” Gupta said tonight.

An officer said: “Bhattacharjee also expressed concern over the spate in People’s War and KLO activities.”

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