Kolkata, Apr 11: Senior Congress leader and Union Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today dismissed allegation by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that Mamata Banerjee had failed to perform as a railway minister and predicted she would run the state well if she became the chief minister.
"She is running the Railways well. She will also run the state well if she becomes the chief minister," Mukherjee said at a meet-the-press programme here.
Mukherjee's support of the key UPA ally came at a time when Bhattacharjee and other Marxist leaders focused on the alleged non-performance by the railway minister and the poor financial position of her ministry without taking her name at campaign rallies.
Describing her as the leader of the Congress-Trinamool alliance, Mukherjee predicted a 'comfortable' majority for the alliance.
Justifying his party's decision to ally with Trinamool despite being given only 65 out of 294 seats, he said, "We think an opportunity has come to downsize the strength of the Left Front to a minority."
He said that Left Front was losing people's support which was evident in a series of electoral debacles it suffered including the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the subsequent Assembly bye-elections.
In a message to Congress rebels whom he had threatened to expel for six years for contesting against Trinamool Congress candidates in Malda, North Dinajpur and Murshidabad districts, he said, "People want a change and the voters were polarised between the Left and the Congress-Trinamool alliance. The rebels will lose their security deposits."
Mukherjee's dire comments followed assertion of a party MP from Murshidabad district that he was prepared to get even suspended from the party for backing the rebels against Trinamool Congress candidates in four constituencies in Murshidabad.
"People are yearning for a change of the LF government and those who are contesting as Independents should respect people's emotions," he said and warned of expulsion from the party if they contested against official candidates, as per the party constitution.
Mukherjee said that West Bengal was one of three states moving towards a debt trap.
"We review financial position of states periodically. In a recent review (it was found that) three states are likely to be in debt trap situation by 2014-15 and West Bengal is one of them," Mukherjee said.
He said that in 2009-10, the total outstanding debt of the poll-bound state stood at Rs 1,62,000 crore.
Refuting the Left Front government's common refrain that West Bengal was being deprived of adequate funds by the Centre, Mukherjee said they had raised this issue time and again and during the time of elections.
He said through the Finance Commission route, the Centre's assistance to the state had doubled during 2005-2010 to Rs 51,000 crore over the previous 11th Finance Commission's tenure when the NDA was in power.
During the 13th Finance Commission period, he said that assistance to the state had increased 131 per cent to Rs 1,18,000 crore.
"From this, anybody can ascertain whether the Centre is depriving the state," he said. PTI