New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss issues related to her state, the contentious increase in BSF jurisdiction, and the pending financial dues of the state.
“I told him that even if we have political differences, that should not impact Centre-state relations. I invited him to inaugurate the Bengal Global Business conference,” she said after the meeting.
“(There were) a lot of natural calamities like Amphan. We have pending dues from the Centre. There are lots of other schemes. They owe us over Rs 96,000 crore. I told him, unless we get our dues, how will the state run?” she added. “He said he will look into it. We talked about the BSF. I told him the federal structure is very important. One cannot bulldoze it. It is to be strengthened.”
Mamata said “increasing BSF powers can encroach into law and order which is a state subject”.
She also discussed problems about the jute industry. She said 82 per cent of jute growers are in West Bengal. The Jute Corporation cap is causing problems for farmers and that helps hoarders, she told the PM.
‘Raised Tripura violence’
Among the pending issues of West Bengal, Mamata said, are Rs 2,000 crore pending GST dues, the state’s demand for Rs 32,000 crore as compensation for the damages because of successive cyclones like Amphan and Bulbul (of which the state claims to have received Rs 1,200 crore) and changing the name of West Bengal to Bengal.
She also said the law-and-order situation in Tripura where the Trinamool Congress is trying to get a foothold in the 25 November municipal elections came up for discussion as well.
“I told the PM about the Tripura violence. I told him what is happening there is not good. Reporters are being quarantined so that they cannot cover. Saayoni is a very big star,” she said, referring to TMC youth wing leader Saayoni Ghosh who was arrested in Tripura Sunday before being released on bail.
They also spoke about Covid, she added. “There is no policy yet on vaccination for 12-18-year-olds. We have given more than 8.5 crore vaccine doses so far but there needs to be clarity on 12-18-year-olds as schools are now opening. There should not be any gap, so I told him, please send vaccines,” she said.
During her ongoing Delhi trip, Banerjee has presided over the induction of former MPs Ashok Tanwar, Kirti Azad and Pavan Varma, and also met a number of regulars on her Delhi itinerary.
Chief among them is Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. While the leaders are known to share a good rapport, the Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are currently vying for the Opposition space in Goa.
In Uttar Pradesh, she added, she is ready to help Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav in the 2022 assembly elections if he wants. “We will fight everywhere,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Mamata met BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy. Answering a question about whether he, too, had joined the Trinamool Congress, Swamy said: “I was already joined. No need to do so officially. I came here to understand the Bengal situation.”
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)
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