The Telegraph
Sunday , January 17 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata too ‘busy’ for PM

Calcutta, Jan. 16: Mamata Banerjee today avoided meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who spent over six hours in the city but most of it in the presence of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

There was a possibility of the railway minister calling on Singh during his lunch break at the Raj Bhavan, but she did not turn up there.

Five hundred metres away, she was then slamming Bhattacharjee for the violence in the state.

Trinamul MLA Partha Chatterjee said Mamata could not make it to the Raj Bhavan because she was “busy leading today’s procession” — from Wellington Square to Esplanade. “We have high respect for Manmohanji. But not sharing a platform with the chief minister is our avowed policy,” he added.

However, a Trinamul general secretary said party leaders had been under the impression that Mamata would skip the Science City and St Xavier’s programmes but meet Singh at the governor’s house, in the chief minister’s absence.

Addressing a rally opposite Metro Cinema, Mamata spoke at length on political violence but skipped the price rise, for which she had blamed the Centre a few days ago.

Trinamul sources admitted that after having avoided Singh, their leader did not want to rub him the wrong way by needling the Centre on food prices.

The Trinamul Congress chief was also restrained while expressing her resentment at the deployment of the joint forces in Lalgarh.

Instead, she trained her guns on the Bengal government for its “non-performance” and even offered to resign as railway minister if it was proved that her party workers had blocked the road when firefighters were heading to Ultadanga to contain a blaze. “CPM-backed auto operators had blocked the road in Ultadanga during the fire,” she said.

Congress complaint

A Congress delegation met the Prime Minister at the Raj Bhavan and complained to him against the state government as well as Mamata.

Without naming Mamata, state Congress working president Subrata Mukherjee later said: “The manner in which a major UPA ally has been consistently criticising the Centre on different issues is an embarrassment for us.”

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