iconimg Saturday, May 30, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Kolkata, May 27, 2014
Despite her poll-time invectives against Narendra Modi, chief minister Mamata Banerjee is hoping he would deliver a fiscal relief package for debt-stressed West Bengal. On Monday, hours before Modi took oath as the prime minister, Banerjee told mediamen in Kolkata that she was eagerly waiting to see what steps the new government took in this direction. “The Centre is deducting a lot of money (on debt repayment account),” she said.

West Bengal is groaning under a huge debt burden — projected to reach `2.75 lakh crore by the end of the current fiscal — with more than 70% of its revenues being consumed by debt servicing.

Since 2011, Banerjee has been pushing for a three-year moratorium on the interest payment, which can save the state more than `60,000 crore. So far, she has failed to wrest any such special package from the Centre.

During the Lok Sabha campaign, on two occasions, BJP president Rajnath Singh said they would consider Bengal’s demand sympathetically.

A Trinamool Congress MP said this was now the top priority for the state. “We had disagreements over this issue with the Congress government,” he said.