Chief minister Mamata Banerjee set a new benchmark in verbal aggression, suggesting at a public rally that she could have beaten up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for not granting financial relief to West Bengal, but what deterred her was public opinion.
“I have visited the PM’s office at least 10 times since 2010. What more can I do? I cannot beat him up. People would call me a hooligan,” Banerjee said in Canning, 75 km from Kolkata.
“But for the sake of the people, I will see the matter to its end.”
The remark has drawn howls of protest.
Demanding an apology, Congress leader and Union minister Deepa Dasmunsi said, “The chief minister should know where to draw the line.”
“It is clear the Trinamool Congress controls the hooligans of Bengal, but this is the first time we heard its top leader saying she does not mind becoming a hooligan,” said CPM central committee member Md Salim.
“We have attacked the PM regarding the coal scam. But we never indulged in such foul language,” remarked state BJP chief Rahul Sinha.
Former state Congress chief Manas Bhuniya said, “Bengal is known as the country's cultural capital, but its chief minister spoke in an ugly, uncivilised and provocative manner."
This was not the first time Banerjee had attacked the Prime Minister personally. In October, appearing on a TV channel, she had even mimicked Singh while highlighting her differences with him on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail.
Financial crisis has been the bane of the new government. The state has moved into a classic debt trap where one has to incur more debt just in order to pay off the old.
While its revenue stands at a meager Rs. 21,000 crore, the debt repayment obligations stand at nearly Rs. 26,000 crore.