Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee arrived here on Wednesday for parleys with the UPA brass, with both sides expecting an understanding on the presidential candidate as well as a moratorium for debt-ridden West Bengal.
The 48,000 votes held by Trinamool in the presidential polls — the highest among Congress allies — is crucial for the ruling coalition's plans to get its candidate elected smoothly. The Trinamool-run state government, on the other hand, is demanding a three-year moratorium on annual interest payment (currently Rs 18,100) that would give debt-ridden Bengal temporary relief amounting to Rs 54,300 crore.
While her meeting with Gandhi is billed for talks on the presidential poll, negotiations with Singh on May 4 is likely to focus on the moratorium issue. “We are not beggars. We are asking for what is due to us. The prime minister promised us even before the elections. We have been asking for nearly a year now. The Centre cannot abdicate its responsibilities,” Banerjee said on Wednesday.
A top finance ministry official said, “A political call has to be taken on the moratorium.”
Top UPA managers said the Centre may also try to convince the Trinamool chief about reforms such foreign direct investment (FDI) in civil aviation, banking law amendment bills, pension fund bill and the insurance bill. Last week, the Prime Minister had assured a delegation of Trinamool leaders that “everything possible” would be done for bringing Bengal back to its feet.
Urban development minister Kamal Nath met Banerjee on Wednesday evening.