Adding to the woes of the Congress in the crucial run-up to the Presidential poll, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee toughened her stand on the demand for a three-year moratorium on interest repayment on the state’s debt. The West Bengal government has been asking for a breather on interest repayment that stands at around Rs 25,000 crore annually.
Ironically, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Banerjee on Wednesday morning and asked her to come for talks on Bengal’s debt crisis but the meeting was cancelled after Banerjee named Singh as one of her choices as the next President.
Banerjee has, however, made it clear that she is not eyeing a ‘bailout package’ — an oblique reference to a waiver of Rs 16,000 crore over three years recently offered by the Centre — but is sticking to her original demand.
The finance ministry, on the other hand, has already conveyed to the Bengal government that it is ‘almost impossible’ to adhere to the demands.
An angry Banerjee also rejected reports that she is linking her moratorium demand with support for the UPA in the Presidential poll.
“Nothing is related to the Bengal package. These are rumours planted by some sections in Delhi. I have never demanded a package. I want a moratorium,” Banerjee said.