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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Montek apologises to Mamata

PTI  New Delhi, April 10, 2013
First Published: 22:58 IST(10/4/2013) | Last Updated: 22:59 IST(10/4/2013)

Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has apologised to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for the unruly mob behaviour outside his office targeting her and her cabinet colleagues and said steps need to be taken to avoid such situations in the future.

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"There was unruly behaviour by mob outside the Planning Commission...I did apologise to her...I think she was very graceful," Ahluwalia told a media channel on Wednesday.

"Nobody has ever used a chief minister's visit to the Planning Commission as an opportunity to have a political protest. Frankly, we will have to think about how to prevent such a thing from happening (in the future)," he added.

A group of about 150 protesters from CPI-M and SFI ambushed the chief minister and other ministers including state finance minister Amit Mitra on Tuesday when they arrived at Planing Commission complex for annual state plan talks.

Ahluwalia also said Banerjee "certainly did not blame the Planning Commission" for the incident, but she did say that the administration should have handled it in better way.

He said a chief minister's visit to Planning Commission to discuss annual plan was an important government function and it was "totally absurd" for political parties to use that opportunity to interrupt process.

To a query whether the Planning Commission was "very generous" in giving 17% hike in Plan, Ahluwalia said: "I don't want to say we are not generous, but we do not discriminate" between states as funds are allocated as per well-defined criteria.

"I think she has done quite well last year, according to most of the indicators and we were very happy to approve the plan," he said, adding, most of the plan would be financed from West Bengal's own resources.

When asked about the criticism that the government has rushed to implement the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme with an eye on elections, Ahluwalia said same critics have been saying government is not moving fast enough in many other areas.

"Quite frankly, I regard this as understandable but a politically opportunistic criticism...I don't think this is connected with general elections," he said.


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