Even as speculations abound on the coming of a Trinamool Congress-led government in West Bengal, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee continues to harbour hopes of an eighth Left Front government.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Bhattacharjee claimed that the “eighth Left Front government” would roll out a Rs 17,000 crore plan budget for the current fiscal.
“We earlier presented a plan budget of Rs 14,000 crore and this time it would be hiked up to Rs 17,000 crore,” said Bhattacharjee.
Rubbishing claims of the poor fiscal health of the state by the principal state opposition Trinamool, the chief minister said that all these are baseless assertions, which have been proved false time and again.
“They initially claimed that we would not be able to pay salary to the state government employees. That has already been proved wrong, as we have released all pending salaries of our employees. Now they are saying we would not be able to pay salary to the teachers. All these are baseless allegations and I would like to assure that salary would be paid to each and every teacher in time,” Bhattacharjee said.
He denied claims that the fiscal health of the state is worse than most other states owing to the huge burden of loans it owes to the union government. “The state has received its legitimate dues from the Centre, and they are not a generous grant. The financial health of the state is at par with most states. We are in fact better than a couple of states,” said Bhattacharjee.
When reminded of Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s promise of a special financial package for development of Jangalmahal, which is going to polls in the final phase on May 10, Bhattacharjee said, “We have already implemented the package that she is promising.”
He claimed it is unfair to link the Maoist upsurge to the lack of development of Jangalmahal. “We have distributed land among the tribal population there. We have tried to improve the livelihood of those dependent on forest products through the formation of tribal associations. We have also taken steps to promote education,” he said.
He also hit out at union finance minister P Chidambaram over his remarks that the state is unresponsive to the law and order problems dogging Bengal. “I don’t need his advice,” he said.