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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Mamataa plays politics through budget speech

Srinand Jha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 25, 2011
First Published: 16:03 IST(25/2/2011) | Last Updated: 16:24 IST(25/2/2011)

Much as she may have wanted to create a big splash in what was probably her last budget as railway minister in her current term, Mamataa Banerjee's speech in the Lok Sabha on Friday was like old wine in a new bottle.

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A huge chunk of announcements for poll-bound West Bengal; a special package for the Northeastern states and no hike in passenger fares – the political overtones of Banerjee's speech was unmistakable.

Squeezed for funds, Banerjee was unable to make grand announcements of the nature that was expected.

Against her demand for additional central assistance of Rs. 40,000 crore, Banerjee was provided only Rs. 20,000 crore.

In keeping with her political philosophy, Banerjee has apparently sought to leave behind a legacy of an aam aadmi railway minister, announcing that all "socially desirable" projects would be included in the 12th plan under the Prime Minister Railway Vikas Yojna.

Incorporating announcements of new trains and tracks, this year's budget finds special emphasis on the Northeastern states.

The political thrust of such announcements is evident.

Pursuing aims of obtaining national party status for her Trinamool Congress (TMC), Banerjee has lately been attempting to make inroads into the Northeastern states.

Banerjee's alleged bias for Bengal became the subject matter for a huge controversy on Friday, as the Janata Dal (United) MPs belonging to Bihar stormed into the well of the House demanding to know what she proposed to do to take forward the pending projects.


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