Sonali Hembram, who did well in a football tournament, receives a scooter from Mamata. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Midnapore, Jan. 5: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today threatened to “take the fight for Bengal to the streets of Delhi” if the Centre did not respond to her demand for a three-year moratorium on repayment of past debts and interest on them.
“Our government is doing very well. We have fulfilled the promises made in our manifesto. But the Centre is not allowing us to take further loans,” Mamata said at a rally on the Midnapore College grounds.
“When the Left Front government was in power, it was allowed to take loans. I am going to wait for some more days. If the Centre does not accept our demand for a moratorium and debt restructuring, I will be forced to take the fight for Bengal to the streets of Delhi,” she told the 30,000-strong gathering. “I don’t want to do it. But I will not allow Bengal to be deprived. We will fight for what is ours,” she added.
At the inauguration of the centenary session of the Indian Science Congress in Salt Lake two days ago, Mamata had pleaded with the Prime Minister for more funds, breaking the vow that she would not “beg” from the Centre. “Please give more to Bengal. If Bengal is developed, then India is developed. Please look at Bengal,” the chief minister had told Manmohan Singh.
Towards the end of her speech today, some farmers complained about the rising prices of fertilisers. Mamata told them that the state government had not raised fertiliser prices. “It is the Congress that has done so. Start a movement against the Centre,” she said.
Mamata was in Midnapore town to attend the closing ceremony of the Jungle Mahal youth festival.
During a visit to Cooch Behar last week, the chief minister had said the state had exhausted funds under non-plan heads.
Trinamul leaders said Mamata was worried about the financial condition of the state. In the run-up to the panchayat polls, she wants to “channelise public anger against the Centre for its failure to control price rise”, a source said.
“Our government is 18 months old but uncomfortable questions are being raised. So focusing on Bengal’s deprivation will help us corner the Congress and, at the same time, put the blame on the CPM for leaving the state in such a financial mess,” a Trinamul MP said.
On the dais, Mamata handed over Rs 25,000 each to 1,520 Jungle Mahal clubs that participated in football and archery tournaments organised throughout the year. The nine best archers and footballers received motorbikes and scooters.
“A year ago, I had promised to recruit 10,000 Jungle Mahal youths as national volunteer force personnel, home guards and special constables. The process has been completed,” she said.
Mamata accused the CPM of trying to create trouble. “The Jungle Mahal model has become a model for the entire country. People are living in peace, participating in festivities and in the development process. The CPM is trying to get the harmads back. I am not going to allow this,” she said.