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Didi seeks bailout for Bengal

kolkata Updated: May 15, 2011 00:35 IST
Ravik Bhattacharya
Ravik Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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Just a day after she swept the Left Front out of power, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee got down to serious business, bracing for a hard bargain with the Centre for a special Bengal bailout package that would take care of the financial crisis.

The immediate driving concern of Banerjee is the inability of the state coffers to even pay the salary and pension to its present and past employees.

The government has a monthly salary and pension burden of R3,000 crore.

On Saturday evening, the Trinamool chief emerged from an hour-long meeting with union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to say, "We have invited them to join the government."

Apart from the financial crisis, the possibility of Congress joining the cabinet was also discussed, the party sources said.

"The Congress high command would take the final decision," said Mukherjee.

Saddled with a debt burden of about R2 lakh crore and poor revenues, the Left Front government was surviving from one borrowing to another for the past few years, with even development funds diverted to keep the salary flowing.

"Earlier Pranabda promised our leader that the centre would help us rebuild Bengal. In fact in a joint campaign in Dum Dum Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the union government would extend all help," Sultan Ahmed, Trinamool MP and MoS tourism told HT .

"It would be difficult. They left out a mess. But we would rebuild Bengal," Mamata Banerjee had said on Friday afternoon.