Seeking debt relief, Mamata to take India Inc team to PM

Having failed to convince the Centre for a moratorium on interests on loans incurred by the West Bengal government, CM Mamata Banerjee will soon be making another fresh attempt at it. This time she will be taking along a delegation of industrialists to meet PM Manmohan Singh to press for a moratorium.

Announcing this at the inaugural ceremony of Bengal Leads, a three-day industrial summit organised by the state government that got underway Tuesday at Haldia, Mamata said, "We have asked for a date from the PM. We want a moratorium on the interest paid by us every month which comes to Rs 23,000 crore. They do not love us, they do not want us because I am not from a family with 'golden spoon'. But it is their duty to rescue us. Even 50 per cent of moratorium will do."

Later speaking to The Indian Express, Saugata Roy, MP and adviser to the state government on matters of industries, said what they would seek from the PM was "financial justice".

The CM took a serious note to the criticism of the summit failing to attract big industrialists. "A section of the media is staying in Bengal but pleading for Gujarat." She said it was unfair to compare the two states.

The summit was attended by industrialists Sanjay Budhia, Sanjiv Goenka, C K Dhanuka, G P Goenka, among others.

Making them sing

At the end of her 45-minute speech, Mamata Banerjee sought to enliven the mood by requesting those on the dias — including industrialists — to sing. "Ebaar ektu gaan hok (let there be some songs)," she said. "Bengal is known for its culture also. So we can sing some song. Sanjiv, (Goenka), you deal in music. Can't you sing?'' While MP Saugata Roy declined to sing, another MP Sudip Bandopadhyay could not defy his leader. Among the industrialists, C K Dhanuka of Dhunserry Industries sang Manna Dey's "Ai mere pyare watan" from Kabuliwala and then Rabindranath Tagore's "Jodi tor daak shune keyo na ashe tobe ekla cholo re." At the end, Mamata led from the front in singing the national anthem. ENS

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