West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee lashed out at Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday for ruling out a special bailout package for the debt-ridden state on Friday.
Addressing 42 Congress MLAs in a closed-door meeting, Mukherjee had reportedly said he could not step beyond the ambit of the Constitution to oblige Banerjee.
“This is not the rule of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq (the eccentric sultan of Delhi). If we have to take any step we will have to do that by following the law. I cannot provide funds according to whims and fancies said Pranab babu,” said an MLA, who did not want to be named.
In an interview to Bengali TV news channel Star Ananda, Banerjee said: “If asking for money to pay the salary of (government) employees is unconstitutional, we would make such unconstitutional demands a thousand times.”
Banerjee claimed the prime minister had favoured a special financial package for the state.
"I can tolerate everything, but not insult to the people of West Bengal. We are not seeking alms from the Centre. It is our right. West Bengal should be considered a special case as we are riddled with a paralysed economy," added Banerjee.
Taking a dig at the finance minister’s claim that the Centre always followed constitutional provisions, Banerjee said: "You (Centre) yourself came out to salvage the CPI(M) government in the state several times, but in the case of forcible farmland acquisition in Singur and the Nandigram massacre, did you follow the Constitution?"
The chief minister admitted that she knew of a financial crisis in the state, but was not aware of the extent of the crisis till she assumed charge.
The state government is desperately seeking a bailout package to tide over the R2.03 lakh crore debt the Left Front government has left behind. The state’s coffers are empty and plan head expenditures have stopped reaching the districts.