Millennium Post

'Discussed development, not politics with PM'

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she discussed "development and not politics" at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.

The Trinamool Congress chief's meeting with Modi came amid efforts by opposition leaders to choose a consensus candidate for the coming presidential polls. The ruling National Democratic Alliance is yet to announce its presidential candidate.

"This was not a political meeting, (but an) absolutely development oriented meeting. I have taken up several issues with the prime minister," Banerjee told reporters, describing it as a "customary" meeting between the state government and the Centre.

Banerjee said she discussed a range of issues related to soil erosion caused by the Ganga in West Bengal and restructuring of the state's debt.

Issues such as the Farakka barrage, the heavy export duty imposed by Bangladesh on mangoes from West Bengal and the construction of a dam over the Atrai River by Bangladesh were also discussed.

She also demanded a restructuring of the central government's loan to the state, which has been reeling under financial problems.

"I have to pay Rs 40,000 crore. How do we work in such a scenario," she said outside South Block, where the Prime Minister's office is situated, after the meeting. The Bengal Chief Minister asked the Centre to release Rs 8, 000 crore for central schemes. "Of the Rs 10,500 crore due we have got only Rs 2,000 crore so far. I apprised the Prime Minister about the Rs 8,000 crore that is still due. He said he will look into the matter," she added.

However, asked if she had had a word with Modi on the presidential election, Banerjee said "no". The TMC supremo stated: "Let the PM decide."
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