Modi appreciates Bengal’s fiscal discipline but no assurance on Mamata’s loan waiver request
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee with MPs at the Parliament House in New Delhii on Monday (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)
Amid indications that the political battle between Trinamool Congress and BJP is unlikely to abate anytime soon, Prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday did not give any assurance to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on her request for a loan waiver.
Sources present in the meeting said that the prime minister told Banerjee and Trinamool MPs that if the Centre was acceded to that request it would mean doing so for other states too. He told them that now that the Centre had decided to grant royalty from auction of coal blocks to states they should use the money to generate their own funds.
“MPs from Bengal met the prime minister today, I also met him and told him that the huge debt that we have inherited from the Left Front government should be waivered. We have doubled tax collection from Rs 21000 crore to Rs 40000 crore. He appreciated the fiscal discipline we have shown and said it is true that West Bengal has a huge financial burden. He said he will look into the matter,” Banerjee said after coming out of the meeting.
The prime minister and the chief minister walked into and out of the meeting with MPs separately with Banerjee being accompanied by her MPs and Modi by his officials. Though what happened in the one on one meeting is not immediately clear, MPs said Mamata had not looked too happy when she came out of it. Since the matter of state finances came up only in the meeting with MPs, the 20 minute meeting with the PM is likely to have been on issues other than those concerning the state government. Banerjee also invited Modi to visit the state.
Trinamool and BJP have been locked in a bitter battle of words in West Bengal where BJP has been steadily increasing its vote share while inside Parliament, especially in the Upper House Trinamool has almost usurped the role of the principal opposition party. Sources present in the meeting said that it did not go as per the Trinamool supremos expectations.
“He was all smiles when he came in, he greeted all of us but the moment she raised the issue of loan waiver, he clammed up. That was a subject he wasn’t clearly comfortable with and she opened with it. On the other issues like money for MNREGA, ICDS etc discussions were more positive. Didi pleaded with him for the sake of the state but he clearly said if he accepts our request he would have to do so for other states too,” said an MP who was present in the meeting. The MP added that when Sugato Basu tried to raise the issue of Land Boundary Agreement, the prime minister did not let him continue with the conversation. Banerjee also met UD minister Venkaiah Naidu, railways minister Suresh Prabhu and finance minister Arun Jaitley while she was in Parliament.
Lok Sabha MP Kalyan Banerjee said: “It was a good meeting. They were really appreciative of some of the things we have done. Nripendra Mishra told our chief secretary that by introducing digital ration cards ‘you have become a model for the entire country.’ The prime minister said Kolkata is a very important city for his governments Look East Policy. On loan waiver of course he did not make any promises but that is understandable. He will have to work it out. The MNREGA money he assured would be disbursed by April 15.”
Source:: Indian Express