March 9: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said there was a “huge difference” in the development models of the Bengal and Gujarat governments, about a week before her visit to Narendra Modi’s state on March 20.
In an interview to news agency PTI, the Bengal chief minister referred to her government’s efforts in bringing peace to Jungle Mahal and Darjeeling and the debt she inherited from the erstwhile Left government to buttress her point that the development models of the two states could not be compared.
“Did Mr A or Mr B have the Jungle Mahal problem to resolve? We have brought peace there. Did Mr A or Mr B have the Darjeeling-like problem to resolve? Darjeeling is now smiling. Did Mr A or Mr B inherit a debt burden of over Rs 2 lakh crore for his state?” she asked. “Despite all these, we have been on the path of development.”
Mamata added: “Let me show how the two states (Bengal and Gujarat) cannot be compared.”
Referring to the 34 years of Left regime in Bengal, the Trinamul chief said her government “had to rise from the bottom” and there was a “flight of capital” from her state, with 50,000 factories closing down and 1 crore people rendered unemployed.
“This was the story of Bengal when my government took over. Other states have had sustained development for many decades,” she told PTI.
According to Trinamul insiders, Mamata’s attempt to differentiate her development agenda with that of Modi’s was a message that she would not hesitate to criticise the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate despite him holding out the olive branch to her.
“At the Trinamul’s Brigade rally on January 30, Mamatadi referred to the Gujarat chief minister as the face of the riots without naming him. So, her observation today took the criticism further,” a Trinamul general secretary said.
The Bengal chief minister will hold a campaign meeting on March 20 in Gujarat, where Trinamul has no presence. Sources said the comments today were the “ground work” for the meeting.
“What Bengal is doing today, India must do tomorrow. These are not hollow words,” Mamata was quoted by PTI as saying.
While pointing out that Mamata was saying “not much new” in laying down her development agenda, the Trinamul general secretary said: “But the timing of her comments is important. She used the opportunity just before the Lok Sabha polls with a motive. She obviously does not like the way CPM leaders have been targeting her over Modi’s praise for her,” he added.
In November last year, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had wondered aloud at a rally in North 24-Parganas whether Modi’s praise for Mamata at a BJP meeting a few days earlier in Uttar Pradesh was part of efforts by the party to “join hands” with Trinamul after the Lok Sabha elections.
Bhattacharjee had said: “The Gujarat chief minister is saying that there cannot be any chief minister like the Bengal chief minister. Just imagine the state of affairs. Ratane ratan chene (a gem knows another).”