Kolkata, Jan 30: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today alleged that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not call her during her anti-land acquisition agitation at Singur because he did not want to annoy the CPI(M).
“During my fast on the Singur land issue, the Prime Minister did not call me. Perhaps he did not want to annoy the CPI(M),” Banerjee remarked during an interview aired on three Bengali news channels.
Saying that her party was a ‘responsible' constituent of the UPA coalition, she noted, “We have a responsibility to maintain the alliance. But we also have a responsibility to the people who have elected us. We have told this to the Prime Minister too.”
The Trinamool Congress carried out its activities based on policies, she said adding, “That is why we have protested against issues like entry of FDI in retail and hike in petrol prices which directly affected the people. But some Congress leaders of the state were working like the CPI(M).”
She also wondered, where the government would get money to implement the Food Security Act, if it comes into force.
On her party's opposition to the Lokpal Bill, Banerjee said, “When the draft bill was discussed, we were told that the Lokayukta aspect would be left to the states. But in the Lok Sabha, the government said states setting up Lokayuktas will have to follow a model formulated by the Centre. It should be left to the states. Why should they interfere in the Centre-state relations?”
Banerjee said she had also opposed FDI in retail as many people were associated with the business. “I am sure the media is also opposed to this.”
“If we have a responsibility to keep the Centre in power, we also have a responsibility to take a stand if it takes any anti-people measures,” she said.
Banerjee said that no leader of the Congress had called her when she was stopped on way to Nandigram after the police firing that killed 14 people.
“I tried to call up a Congress leader and sought help. He quickly hung up the phone, saying the CPI(M) would be annoyed,” he said.
Pointing out that the Congress was a minority at the Centre and was running the government with the support of the Trinamool Congress, Banerjee said, “We have only one cabinet minister. There are five ministers of state, but they are hardly given any work. Our party does not even have a room in Parliament.”
She charged a section of Congress leaders with fielding Independent candidates in the Assembly polls to defeat the Trinamool Congress.
“We have 183 MLAs in the 294-member House. Without the Congress and BJP (working against the Trinamool Congress), the Left Front would have got only 19 seats. In some seats, the Congress had fielded Independents (against the Trinamool Congress) so that the CPI(M) can win,” she pointed out.
Asserting that the change of regime in West Bengal would not have occurred without the Trinamool Congress, she said, “Our party was formed to bring about a change. If we were unable to form Trinamool Congress, there would not be any change in West Bengal. Our party is more progressive, even than the Left.”
In reply to a question, Banerjee said that the Centre had not given any financial package to the state since her government came to power.
“The Centre has not given us anything. Before the election, the Prime Minister had said the state will get help. I have held five meetings with Pranab Mukherjee. The media also wrote that big help was coming. Nothing happened. But I am against begging and we will hold our heads high in whatever we do,” she said.
Banerjee said the Centre took away revenue from Income Tax and the state's only sources of revenue were sales tax and state excise.
“My priority is to bring about a turnaround in Bengal. In the past eight months since my government took over, we have achieved 21 per cent growth. The Centre has not given us anything. Whatever we have done, we have done on our own. Despite financial difficulties, we have paid the salary to our employees and 10 per cent of arrears DA,” she said.