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CM takes Left on board in debt-relief fight Foe says it has no objection

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 30.06.12
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Calcutta, June 29: Mamata Banerjee today said she was planning to send an all-party delegation to Delhi to seek a three-year moratorium on principal and interest payment on Bengal’s debts, the first time the chief minister spoke about taking the Left and the Congress on board in finding ways to fight the fiscal mess.

Her parleys with the Centre and the Congress on the moratorium not yielding any results so far, the chief minister wants to send the message to Delhi that all of Bengal, cutting across party lines, was united behind the demand, Trinamul sources said. “That is why she has sought the support of the Left and the Congress,” a source said.

Replying to a question in the Assembly from Congress MLA Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury, Mamata said an all-party delegation could be sent to Delhi to hold talks with the Centre. “I am not asking for any special funds from the Centre. I would request the House that let us all come together to appeal for a three-year moratorium. I want everybody’s co-operation. I will ask Partha Chatterjee to see if an all-party delegation can be sent to Delhi,” she said.

The Left Front MLAs were not present when Mamata made the suggestion as they had staged a walkout on another issue.

Later, the CPM said it was not averse to joining the all-party delegation. “We have no objection to going to Delhi but we have to be told what the charter of demands is,” leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said.

Mamata’s call for co-operation came in response to a question by Chowdhury on steps the government planned to take to fill vacant doctor posts at Malda district hospital “I have certain limitations. I want to improve the existing conditions, but there are funds constraints,” she said.

Mamata’s relationship with the Centre, the Congress and former Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee soured after her requests for the moratorium were not accepted. Today, she reminded the Congress MLAs about her efforts to pull the state out of the financial crisis.

Criticising the Left for the financial mess, she said: “Those who walked out of the House shouting slogans have left behind a debt of Rs 2 lakh crore. The interest has shot up to Rs 25,000 crore from Rs 22,000 crore. Despite the constraints, we are paying salaries, running hospitals, giving help to imams and the villagers of Singur.”

Congress legislature party leader Mohammad Sohrab pointed out that he had not received any answers to letters he had written to the chief minister for discussions on the debt situation.

Mamata shot back: “This is a political question. You could have talked to me separately. I have met the Prime Minister and the former finance minister eight to 10 times. I had numerous meetings with your party president. I didn’t know that I would have to speak to state-level leaders as well.”