The Trinamul march on Thursday. (Sanat Kumar Sinha)
Calcutta, Oct. 17: Trinamul MPs will meet Union finance minister P. Chidambaram on Monday to seek financial assistance for the state and protest against the Raghuram Rajan committee report that categorised Bengal as “less-developed”, a tag that will reduce central assistance by more than Rs 4,000 crore.
The proposed meeting in Delhi with the finance minister, announced today at a rally in Calcutta, is part of Mamata Banerjee’s strategy to up the ante against the Centre ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Trinamul sources said.
“The Lok Sabha polls are just a few months away…. This is the time to begin a movement against the Centre,” a Trinamul leader said.
According to him, highlighting populist issues is at the core of the anti-Centre movement Trinamul is trying to build.
Railway fare hike, FDI in retail, price rise and the recent floods — Trinamul leaders touched upon several issues at today’s rally to attack the UPA government.
Trinamul leaders close to Mamata said the chief minister had made it clear that the party would have to raise the pitch against what according to her were “anti-people policies” of the Centre and the deprivation of Bengal.
This afternoon, Trinamul leaders and workers walked from College Square to Sealdah station, protesting the hike in railway fares.
The leaders said more such protests would be organised in the coming days “to let Delhi know about the popular mood in Bengal” against the Centre’s “apathy” towards the financial needs of the state.
“We are not opposed to other states getting financial assistance but it cannot be at the cost of Bengal,” said Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Trinamul’s leader in the Lok Sabha.
Trinamul sources spoke of a “plan” behind the party’s move to attack the Congress. In the wake of Trinamul’s success in the rural and civic polls, Mamata has been mulling the idea of going it alone in the Lok Sabha polls and winning the maximum possible seats in Bengal, they said.
The sources said targeting the Congress in Bengal was Mamata’s “priority” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls as she was eyeing anti-Left votes.
“Mamatadi is highlighting issues that affect the lives of people. The Congress does not have any answer to her questions,” a Trinamul minister close to Mamata said.
“The Centre has deliberately released water (from dams) to create problems in Bengal. Ten years ago, Mamata spoke about man-made floods. Today, she has been proved correct,” Bandyopadhyay said.
Both state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya and Opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra of the CPM held news conferences to blame the state government for the “poor handling” of the floods.
“When the floods hit the districts, the government was caught napping. No steps were taken to evacuate the flood-affected people. Distribution of relief materials was not done properly,” Mishra said at Alimuddin Street.
Bhattacharya accused the state government of being partisan in supplying relief materials and said the chief minister was “misleading the people of Bengal” by holding the DVC responsible for the floods.