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Will do everything to bail out Bengal: PM

Last updated on: April 27, 2012 15:00 IST

Will do everything to bail out Bengal: PM

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday assured Trinamool Congress that the government would do everything possible to bail out debt-ridden West Bengal, as party Members of Parliament sought a three-year moratorium on interest payment.

A day after they placed their demands before Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, including restructuring of the 'massive debt burden' faced by the state, a delegation of Trinamool MPs met the Prime Minister to raise the issue.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Photographs: Reuters

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"The state is on the edge of a precipice. Its financial condition is very bad and the state government is facing grave difficulty," Minister of State for Urban Development Saugata Roy told reporters after the 15-minute meeting at Parliament House.

Quoting the latest state budget, he said the state paid around Rs 18,000 as interest and Rs 7,000 crore (Rs 70 billion) as loan repayment last year.

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Image: Mamata Banerjee.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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Bengal's total debt was around Rs 183,000 crore (Rs 1,830 billion) last year.

Roy blamed the erstwhile Left Front government's '34 years of misrule' for the huge debt burden and said 'unless the Centre does something immediately to retrieve the situation, the state will run into a deep crisis.'

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Image: Victoria Memorial Kolkata.
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters

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Asked whether they had served a 15-day ultimatum to the Centre to take a decision, he replied in the negative and said 'there is no arm-twisting, no threat and no bargaining. All this is being reported by the media only'.

The Trinamool leader and his senior colleague Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the Prime Minister was 'very positive' in his response.

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Image: A rickshaw puller eats beside a busy road in Kolkata.
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters

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"The Prime Minister told us that within the realms of possibility and constitutional limitations, the Centre will do everything possible for West Bengal," Roy said.

Bandyopadhyay said the delegation would report the entire discussion with the Prime Minister to Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Banerjee is due to meet the Prime Minister next week when she comes to New Delhi to attend the Chief Ministers' conference on National Counter Terrorism Centre.

The latter is being opposed by the Trinamool in its present form, saying it would be an 'assault on the federal structure'.


Image: Howrah Bridge at night.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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