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WB finance minister in Delhi

The West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's demand for the special financial package for her state from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) hinges at a precarious point, as it determines the future of her relationship with this alliance. On Monday, the much anticipated meeting between the West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra and the union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee took place to discuss this issue in depth.

After the meeting concluded, Mitra told reporters, 'Discussions are going on. ... When discussions complete, we will speak to [Mamata Banerjee].'

Their meet focused on Mitra's demand for a special financial package for the state. Sources reveal that the talks between them still remain 'inconclusive'. And, the reason for inconclusive talks was also the discussion on the presidential candidate.

The Congress, however, chose to stay mum about the two finance ministers discussing Banerjee's support for UPA's presidential candidate. The party spokesperson Manish Tewari said about the financial package for West Bengal and the presidential candidate, 'Any such linkage being drawn is erroneous. They are parallel tracks which do not meet. The states can demand packages if they are in distress.'

Sources close to Banerjee say that she is very clear about supporting the Congress candidate only after her demand for a three-year moratorium on the payment of loan to the Centre, is agreed upon. Her demand is very simple: she wants a waiver from the  interest per year on central loans, which she feels comes in the way of West Bengal's development. She feels that her government is being forced to pay this amount for the misdeeds of the  earlier Left Front governments.

The UPA is under tremendous pressure to please Banerjee, as her support is very crucial for them for the upcoming presidential poll. That is the reason why the timing and agenda of the Mitra-Mukherjee meeting is so significant, especially as Mukherjee's name tops the list for the post of president.
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