Calcutta, March 12: Congress MLA and former state Congress committee chief Manas Bhunia today urged finance minister Amit Mitra to persuade chief minister Mamata Banerjee to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and get more funds for Bengal and assured his party’s support for such a venture.
During the debate on the state budget that was tabled by Mitra yesterday, Bhunia, his fingers pointed at the finance minister, said: “I wonder why you criticised the Centre in your budget speech yesterday. Rather than doing that, keep your calm… persuade our chief minister to meet the prime minister and bring more money from the Centre. We will stand by you and your government if you venture to do that as, that will benefit Bengal.’’
Yesterday, Mitra had mentioned during his budget speech that he and the chief minister had met the prime minister on at least 10 occasions with pleas for central assistance but nothing had happened.
“The Centre did not help us financially despite the state’s burgeoning debt burden. Instead, it gave thousands of dollars to the IMF to help countries tide over the Eurozone crisis,’’ Mitra had said after his budget presentation.
Bhunia said today: “The finance commission has raised the quantum of funds earmarked for Bengal. The central share of taxes has also been increased for our state. Money has been sanctioned for the BRGF (Backward Region Grant Fund). So please don’t blame the Centre. Rather, cooperate with them so that Bengal gets more funds.”
Bhunia, despite the snapping of Congress-Trinamul ties in September last year, sounded conciliatory, throwing up the question on whether the two parties could again come closer before the next year’s general elections.
“What are you trying to say Manasbabu? It seems you are trying to get your party closer to Trinamul so that an alliance can be forged again,’’ a Left MLA remarked in the House today.
Bhunia told Mitra not to speak in the Left’s voice as the latter had “crippled’’ Bengal with huge debts.