Targeting her Marxist opponents again, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that CPI-M was plotting with Maoists to kill her with the help of Pakistan's ISI and financed by North Korea, Venezuela and Hungary.
CPI-M dismissed the allegation as "ridiculous" and said the party will examine whether it merited a defamation suit against the firebrand Trinamool Congress supremo.
Mamata launched the fresh tirade against her arch rival when she spoke about conspiracy theories after she was asked about the arrest of a Jadavpur University professor over his cartoon for poking fun at her.
Asked about the cartoon by Washington Post for an article on her in the US daily, Mamata launched into a tirade about how her Marxist political opponents were plotting with the Maoist rebels to discredit and kill her, in league with Pakistan's intelligence agency and financed by North Korea, Venezuela and Hungary.
"They have given me the death sentence, and every day they are spreading this superimposed photo, on Facebook, on Internet or in the e-mail, through some false, camouflaged name," she said.
Rejecting the allegation, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said there cannot be anything more ridiculous than Mamata naming his party, Maoists, Venezuela, Hungary and North Korea as a "grand coalition and axis of the evil" and giving such a sattement to the international media.
"We will examine whether it merits defamation," he told reporters.
West Bengal urban development minister Farhad Hakim defended Mamata's comments, alleging that the Maoists and the CPI-M want to take the life of the chief minister.
"The Maoists and the CPM are against her life, it is known to everyone. And they want to kill the democracy, kill the progress," he said in Kolkata.
Hakim did not want to go into details into the allegation that the CPI-M and the Maoists are receiving funds for their campaign. He, however, said there is some funding to these organisations.
The US daily in its article also called Mamata the biggest obstacle to liberalisation in India.
While pointing out that her party, Trinamool Congress holds just 19 seats in the 543-seat Parliament, the US daily said Mamata wields "immense influence".
"She spent her life fighting communists but is the biggest obstacle to economic liberalisation in India today. She is the leader of a small regional party but wields more power than the prime minister," it said.
"Banerjee is the personification of a fundamental change that is transforming Indian politics: the declining vote share of the country's two main political parties and the rising influence of regional parties," the daily said in the article on Mamata, who last year vanquished the Left which ruled the state for 34 years.
Describing her as "a rising force in Indian politics," the paper noted that US secretary of state Hillary Clinton paid a special visit to Kolkata this month to meet her.
"The 57-year-old Banerjee — determined, resolutely populist and hardworking, yet eccentric and intolerant of dissent — holds the balance of power in India's coalition government and has used that political might to huge effect.
"Time after time, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's efforts to introduce economic reforms have floundered because of Banerjee's opposition," it said and cited the examples of the government's U-turn on issues like allowing foreign supermarket chains such as Wal-Mart to enter the country as well as her opposition on attempts to raise gas prices and railway fares.
However, Mamata defended her policies saying, "We are not Marxist or capitalist, we are for the poor people."
"Our policy is very clear: whatever policy will suit the people, whatever policy will suit the circumstances, whatever policy will suit my state."
Mamata also accused the earlier CPM regime of leaving West Bengal bankrupt, saddled with a USD 40 billion debt.
When asked about attracting American investors, she said, "We cannot offer what other states can offer, because of our situation — but we can extend our cooperation from the heart," she said. "We can touch your heart, but may be not financially."
However, she said was determined to keep her election pledges, and that means no foreign supermarkets.
"I am ready to die, but I cannot cheat the people," she was quoted as saying.