Mamata sounds panchayat poll bugle, Left and Congress leaders in firing line

Kolkata

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday demanded punishment for Left Front ministers who made the state "bankrupt". She also urged people to raise their voice against the stepmotherly attitude of the UPA II government at the Centre, which had rejected her demand for a three-year moratorium on payment of interest on Rs 2.08 lakh crore loans raised by the Left Front during its 34-year rule.

Addressing a gathering of minorities at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Mamata virtually began her panchayat poll campaign by launching a vitriolic attack against both the CPM and Congress. In order to consolidate her vote bank among the minorities, she also gave details of schemes the Trinamool government is implementing as well as planning to execute.

"We have done a lot for the minorities and we wish to do more. But the condition of the state exchequer is the worst. Let the people of West Bengal cutting across all barriers raise their voice against the discriminatory attitude of the Centre. On the first day of month, the Centre takes away whatever we earn. We have made no mistakes. It is the Left Front that sold the entire state and made it bankrupt. The Left Front and CPM leaders who are responsible for the situation should be punished in front of the people," Mamata said.

"We are not being allowed to borrow because the RBI has drawn a lakshmanrekha. We do not get what other states receive from the Centre. What is our fault?" the chief minister asked. "The self help groups of other states are given loans but in West Bengal, the groups do not get adequate loan. Why this discrimination?"

Mamata also came down heavily on a section of newspapers and television channels who, she said, constantly criticise the state government for no reason. "A particular newspaper owner wants the urban land ceiling limit to be withdrawn just to do business. But we will never withdraw the ceiling limit because that would force poor people to leave Kolkata," she said.

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