Citing “seven points of uniqueness” in her state, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee pitched for a financial package — based on more central funds and grants — from the Manmohan Singh government for the debt-ridden state.
Banerjee’s request comes amid demand from Bihar for special package and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s scathing attack against the Centre for favouring West Bengal on political grounds.
Jayalalithaa had said in her written speech: “Funds are not provided to Tamil Nadu while a special package has been given to West Bengal for the only reason that the present ruling party there is an ally of the ruling party at the Centre.” Mamata later replied: “I don’t want to do politics here. All that I want to tell Jayalalitha is-Vanakkam!”
At the National Development Council meeting on Saturday, Banerjee said, “the unmanageable financial scenario can only be corrected by a large infusion of liquidity for non-plan expenditure in the form of a comprehensive liquidity infusing and grant-based financial package.”
While top finance ministry officials claimed that such a package was never offered before, Bengal’s finance minister Amit Mitra told HT at the sidelines of the meeting: “Bihar was given a backward area package of R800 crore. No one objected to it. Even if there is no precedence, the Centre should do it because Bengal is a special case.”
Banerjee cited unbridled political spending during the Left rule, large number of backward districts, poverty-stricken and unskilled minorities, left wing extremism, lack of infrastructure in hill region, security concerns in international borders with three countries and de-industrialisation as reasons for demanding special treatment for Bengal.