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TMC rebuts PC claim

Calcutta, April 1: Trinamul today accused P. Chidambaram of “deliberately misleading the people”, a day after the Union finance minister explained why the Centre could not grant Bengal a moratorium on interest payments.

A rebuttal of Chidambaram’s remarks yesterday was uploaded on Trinamul’s official website this evening.

“Mr. Chidambaram is deliberately misleading the people of this country…. The FM might have hinted of repayment of public debts like Small Savings, etc. Budgetary provisions could have been made in the same manner the scheme of BRGF was introduced for backward regions of the country, had there been compassionate and sympathetic consideration on the part of Chidambaram and his predecessor-in-office,” read a statement on the Bengal ruling party’s website.

Chidambaram had yesterday said there was “no provision in the budget” or a scheme that allowed the Centre to pay interest for Bengal. The finance minister added that if the Centre gave in to Bengal’s demand for the moratorium, other debt-ridden states such as Punjab or Kerala would make similar requests.

Chidambaram had said he continued to extend a financial package for Bengal under the Backward Regions Grant Fund that was started by his predecessor Pranab Mukherjee.

In its statement today, Trinamul also accused the Centre of going against “assurances” and acting on a political vendetta after Trinamul pulled out of the UPA government.

“The Finance Ministry formed a committee and a series of meetings were held and assurances given, both at administrative and political level…. The Centre made a U-turn after Trinamul withdrew support.”

Mamata Banerjee has made the Centre’s refusal to agree to the state government’s demand on the moratorium a poll plank.

In her recent addresses, the chief minister has accused the Centre of taking away money from the state’s treasury and depriving the government of its financial rights. At a meeting in Naxalbari, Mamata said Delhi had not released Rs 11,000 crore due to Bengal.