New Delhi: Sending another tough message to the UPA Government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tells CNN-IBN that she needs Central help of Rs 15,000 crore for the state but will not beg for it.
“I’ll not beg for money from the Centre,” said Mamata Banerjee.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee also expressed her unhappiness over not getting enough representation at the Union Cabinet.
“We feel lonely in the UPA, as we have only one Cabinet minister,” said the TMC chief.
Talking on the inflation issue, she said, “The UPA Government needs to check prices. It must take care of the people.”
The Chief Minister added that the Centre must first protect farmers’ interests and then go into FDI in retail.
Talking on Naxal problem, Mamata Banerjee clarified she had never joined the Maoist movement and even claimed it was the CPM that was always with Maoists.
However, she was not in favour of using armed forces to tackle the problem. “I am not sending any troops. It is the duty of the police to take care of law and order situation. They will do whatever is required,” said Mamata Banerjee.
She also denied going to Bhawanipore Police Station to free Trinamool workers, saying her visit was to maintain communal harmony. “I never got anyone released from Bhawanipore Police Station. I went to the police station to maintain communal harmony,” she said.
Talking on the state of health care in West Bengal, the Chief Minister said, “It’s not possible to change the system within six months”.
On the court battle with Tatas over Singur land, Mamata Banerjee said, “Let them fight the case. It’s their democratic right.”
Here is the excerpt of the interview:
Sagarika Ghosh: Hi there. A very warm welcome to CNN-IBN special – ‘Question time Mamata’. Six month ago, Mamata Banerjee made history by defeating the over-two-decade-long rule of the Left front in West Bengal but today six month later, the euphoria of victory is wearing a little thin. It’s time to review Mamata Banerjee’s report card on governance and who better to do that than Chief Minister herself. Mamata Banerjee joins us live and exclusive in the CNN-IBN studios. We are delighted to have her here and on the show we are going to put questions to her about her record so far and take questions from you – the viewer. So log on to IBNLive.com, post to your questions. We will put them to the Chief Minister throughout this particular show. Infact, we have opened this question on IBNLive .com in the morning, so we have already received a flood of emails. We have also have questions from viewers sent to us from Kolkata. We will put them in our show to the Chief Minister and have her answer directly. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. It is privilege to have you here I was there when you won this stupendous victory. Now you are here. Just to kick of the show how do your feel you have done so far in these last six months of your government.
Mamata Banerjee: First let me tell you, thank you very much for remembering me and calling this interview. I love CNN-IBN and I give my best wishes to all of my colleagues also here. Within these six months, whatever was our commitment, I think we have done everything in a positive manner. And you see there are three main issues. One was that of Darjeeling to maintain peace. You will be happy to know the agreement is already over and also the elections after 15-20 years – the elected bodies the municipality election is over. And already the Mayor of Darjeeling Gorkha Council is already been announced. So I am very happy to see that tourists are going to Darjeeling. Darjeeling – the Kanchanjangha is smiling, so I am very happy for that. This is number one.
Number two there are some issues regarding Jungalmahal also that area also I can assure you that whatever we have done more than that. And all the tribal families, I declare it is a BPL families and we are giving rice to everybody there. The poor people there the first time they are getting the food and I am very happy with them and they want peace and number three is the Singur. You know there are some moments for the farmer’s moments. It was the key, it is the foundation of the farmers moments at that place. So that also government, we have passed the bill we have acquired the land and one court case is pending that’s why I cannot say into in details but whatever we committed to the people we kept all word. And instead of that within this six month though we have the problem of economy situation specially my predecessors the earlier government, they have debated about two lakh three thousands crore. So now if I spent a one rupee the ninety four paisa have to pay to give the, to pay the debt and the salary and pensions. So only six paisa is there for the development purpose, so it is very difficult but instead of all this odds we have done a lot.
Sagarika Ghosh: So, you are saying you have kept your commitment but the viewers responses are coming thick and fast. Let me play you a response. We have got question for you from Soumyajyoti Banerjee of South Point High School. He has sent this question to us on IBNLive.com. Soumyajyoti Banerjee has written to us “How come a government that is so cash strapped announces so many inaugurations and proposals without giving any clue on the source of the money? Is this government really serious? Are we going to see another era of day-dreaming and ultimately wake up to see us at the same fag end of the tunnel? Is this the “poribartan” that we had asked for?” That is Soumyajyoti Banerjee and a young lady from Kolkata also has a question about “How Mamata Banerjee is going to create opportunities for the young?” Let listen to the young lady from Kolkata.
Viewer from Kolkata: In the present perspective of your land policy, where you said that you will not acquire the land for the industry. How do you propose to woo investors? For young educated people likes us, what job opportunities are you creating?
Sagarika Ghosh: Do you sometimes see that the expectations were too high?
Mamata Banerjee: Yes that expectation is high that I appreciate because I love. If there is no expectations than though how should run the, even for your channel the higher expectation is there. Everybody wants that, expectation is needed in our country. Number one they asked about the, how about the, why we are inaugurating the project. Let me tell you something, without the financial clearance and what about the money is with us for the development only that project is there. We are not doing anything wrong which may not suit to our economy situation, number one.
Number two, to give the people to food I don’t think this is the luxurious thing. What we have done we have done according to our financial normalcy and the situation. Number two regarding the land acquisition it is our policy. It is not that we are saying today, in our manifest also we announced that same thing. Now I fought also and went to twenty six days hunger strike especially for this farmers’ moment and all these. And we have already finalised our land policy. There we have mentioned categorically that no forcefully acquisition of land but we have the land map with us, land map is with us already. You will be happy to know more than fifty six thousands crore investment already it is been given to West Bengal. Number two within this six months I created from government itself more than 2.5 lakh jobs and also this 50,000-60,000 crore the announcement for the investment. I think within this two three years we can create more than ten lakh jobs from the IT industry from the food industry, from the agriculture industry..
Sagarika Ghosh: But don’t you feel that the case you are fighting with the Tatas has sent a wrong signal to the industry?
Mamata Banerjee: No, I don’t think so that’s different question that is absolutely wrong. Nobody supporting him for this case. It is the case that is pending so I don’t want to say anything. They have said so many things against of me but I don’t think it is proper. Let them fight it is there democratic rights, it is there legal right they can fight, let the court decide. I am not arguing for that and I am not going to create another controversy for that.
I have received proposals. Within this one thousand acre of land Singur, even I have received the proposal from Real also to set up a factory there and four hundreds acres we will return back to the farmers whatever we have fought for. And it is the farmers and farmers they are not taking money they will get it. So it is doesn’t meant that only one piece of land will destroy the situation. I don’t believe it. I believe in that why the industrialist are very happy. Within this time let me tell you Jindals project clear. Within this time the TVS is already they are investing the money. The SAIL have their expansion programme of more than Rs 20,000 crore..
Sagarika Ghosh: But aren’t these investment came during the left front rule and the fresh investment are coming during your rule?
Mamata Banerjee: No, No nothing was there it was totally closed. It was stopped.
Sagarika Ghosh: The criticism against you, is that you know, you are pursuing the politics of “Tara Huro”. You know you are setting to many deadlines as they say in Bengali. You know in one week you solve the Maoist problem, by one week you solve the Jungalmahal problem. One week you solve the Gorkha Land problem, you solve the Singur problem. Are you setting too many deadlines? Are you in too much of hurry? Because lot of these issues, lot of these problems require time and require you to put in a system?
Mamata Banerjee: First let me tell you if there is no deadline every development process will be dead. They will die; there must be some deadline and some targets also because even in your channel if you prepare the plan you have to give some deadline also.
9:30 is your prime time, afternoon you have the sports time, you have the deadline also for that. Like this I am telling you, the deadline why there won’t be any deadline but that is not the fact for that anybody is suffering. We have deadlines that why we are working. Thirty five years, totally the work culture destroyed. Now lets us..
Sagarika Ghosh: You need to have the deadline?
Mamata Banerjee: Yes.
Sagarika Ghosh: But, but you know your former friends and allies are now becoming critical of you. Your friend Mahashweta Devi has become a critic. She has called you a fascist for not permitting her rally, which you said that rally was the Maoist but she has called you a fascist.
Mamata Banerjee: She can, it is her democratic right. I have respect for her. I am not saying anything she is an aged lady and I respect her age. But I cannot support the Maoists. There are some people from Kolkata, it is everybody knows from Kolkata. They are behind the moment and all they are supporting. I am telling you one thing that even yesterday she has written a letter to Mukul Roy and said under the leadership of Mamata this Bengal will develop. So it is I don’t know somebody…
Sagarika Ghosh: Why don’t you give the permission for the rally?
Mamata Banerjee: No, no they have got the permission for rally that is wrong I am telling you. That is I am telling you absolutely wrong.
Sagarika Ghosh: But that place that particular place they wanted to have it, you didn’t allow, you didn’t give permission.
Mamata Banerjee: That is I am telling you is absolutely wrong, misleading distorting..
Sagarika Ghosh: Ok.
Mamata Banerjee: Ok that why I said that day only. You see some time if your go to purchase a ticket from cinema hall. Some cinema hall may be overbooked. Maybe one day you will not get a ticket, then you search another cinema hall. That is a system. If we want to go to book a club for some marriage ceremony or some ceremony, all houses are not available.
You do the thing according to your choice. Where a small organisation, that is a small organisation where only 10-12 people are in the organisation, There is nothing in the organisation. They have four groups. They asked the police, they said yes. First-com-first-serve, you have already done three programmes there…
Sagarika Ghosh: So it was purely logistical. But it raises questions about your Maoist policy at the moment.
Mamata Banerjee: No, no. Let me finish. Just one minute. The police then offered them three places. We have four-five places for public meetings. They said this place is booked, you go to another place. This is wrong, distorted and misinformed. We don’t do it.
Sagarika Ghosh: Okay let’s come to your policy on the Maoists and your relationship with the Maoists, which is agitating a number of our viewers. Sreenivasan Sundaram is telling us on IBNLive.com that “She should know that her street fighter image won’t work, when it is her responsibility to govern the state democratically with efficiency and transparency. She should go for developmental programmes in Jungalmahal which will pave the way for reconciliation with Maoists. And Sayon Roy, he has also asked on IBNLive.com and this is an interesting question. Before the election we have seen you with the people who are Maoist sympathiser and you have fought against the Left Front government for the rights of the Maoists, but what are you doing now? First you said Left was behind Gyaneshwari train sabotage and now you are saying the Maoists are responsible for it. Did you say all these because of political gains?
Secondly, you are not allowing any peaceful movement in your state.. Is this not fascism? You have done a 180 degree turn on your stand on Maoists.
The question is: are you willing to admit you have flipped-flopped on the Maoists? First you supported them. You said should have dialogue with them. Now you are pushing-in forces..
Mamata Banerjee: I have never supported them. No. This is wrong. In a democratic country. Bengal has 10 crore people, only 1-2 people can prepare some questions. I don’t mind for that. I am ready to give all the replies because their information is wrong. I never joined the Maoist movement. This was the gossip of CPM, number one.
Number two, the CPM people are totally with the Maoists. What I said earlier also. In the daytime, they are Marxists and night-time they are Maoists. And that is true. And Gyaneshwari Express, what I said on that day. “Yes my apprehension is now also. If I say so, prime facie evidence… The investigation is going on. The CBI will file a chargesheet.