Mamata at the Guwahati rally on Wednesday. (PTI)
Guwahati, Feb. 26: Mamata Banerjee today questioned Manmohan Singh’s contribution to Assam, the comments made in a state from which the Prime Minister has been elected to the Rajya Sabha.
“You have sent the Prime Minister to the Rajya Sabha but what has he given you in return?” the chief minister asked this afternoon at her first rally in Guwahati.
“He comes to the state on a chartered flight only during elections and flies back to Delhi after the polls,” the Trinamul Congress chief told the 9,000-strong gathering at Sarusajai Sports Complex.
Singh, who often refers to Assam as his “adopted home state”, has been elected to the upper House for two consecutive terms from there.
Mamata did not elaborate on her plans for the Lok Sabha elections in Assam. Trinamul has one MLA in the 126-seat Assam Assembly. Although Assamese actor Biju Phukan has expressed his desire to contest the general election as a Trinamul candidate, Mamata did not broach the issue. She said she would finalise the list of the candidates shortly.
Although Mamata has often criticised the Congress-led UPA II for not meeting the financial demands of Bengal and the Centre’s failure to curb price rise, this is the first time the chief minister has openly questioned the Prime Minister’s performance.
Earlier, Mamata had mimicked Singh on television and wondered aloud in public whether she should beat up the Prime Minister to persuade him to cut the prices of domestic LPG and fertilisers.
Mamata said at today’s programme that there was “no question” of tying up with the BJP. “We had supported the BJP because of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Now, there is no question of supporting a party of rioters,” she said, adding that Trinamul would play a crucial role in forming the next government.
Trinamul sources said Mamata tried to dispel any notion of a tacit understanding with the BJP, an allegation often made by the Left Front. The minority community makes up 31 per cent of Assam’s population.
The chief minister spoke about the development schemes of her government.
She dubbed an “election gimmick” the Centre’s proposal to increase the number of days of work given under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act from 100 to 150 a year for SCs and STs.
“They cannot pay for 100 days’ work and they are talking about increasing it to 150 days. The Centre has not yet been able to release funds to the Bengal government to make payments under MGNREGA,” Mamata said.