Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday lock horns in northern Bengal over how much money New Delhi provides West Bengal.
Banerjee, the state’s chief minister, has made ‘deprivation of Bengal’ an issue to attack the Congress-led UPA2 government.
“The Centre sends more money to Bengal for education than other states. But it does not reach the education sector. Please remember, it is your money,” Gandhi said during a rally at a tea estate in Aliporeduar constituency.
He targeted Bengal’s roads too. “I took 15 minutes to travel a stretch that should have taken two minutes. But you have to travel on these roads every day. We provide crores of rupees for your roads,” he said.
Gandhi rued Trinamool’s bid to emulate the anti-people policies of the Left Front government it replaced. “Bengal did not get the poriborton (Banerjee’s slogan) it deserved. You have to bring a government that will fight for workers, farmers and the common man,” he said.
Banerjee retaliated in Siliguri, alleging Gandhi was concealing the truth. “Some leaders come once in a while and dish out misleading figures. The Centre took away more than Rs. 76,000 crore as debt repayment besides Rs. 40,000 crore in taxes and duties during the past two years,” she said.
“They (Congress) have betrayed the people of Bengal repeatedly. And they come before the elections to make tall claims,” Banerjee added, calling Gandhi a ‘bird of passage’.
Gandhi’s rally in Kolkata was cancelled because of a thunder squall.