'We have kept our promise'
In an interview with CNN-IBN, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee spoke on a range of issues including her party's tiffs with the United Progressive Alliance, her six-month rule in the state and her plans to tackle Maoism. Here are some excerpts:
On her six-month rule
"We have done everything as per our commitment, positively. We have delivered on Darjeeling -- the Gorkha Hill Council is there. Tourists are going there and the Kanchenjunga is smiling.
I can assure you that we have done for Jungle Mahal whatever we had promised. All tribal families in Jungle Mahal have been declared as living below the poverty line and all poor people are getting food for the first time.
On Singur, it was the foundation of the farmer's movement. We have passed the bill and acquired the land. One court case is pending but whatever we had committed has been delivered. The earlier government had a debt of Rs two lakh three thousand crore. Only six paisa is left for development out of every rupee spent. In spite of economic problems, we have kept our promise."
Image: A file photo of Mamata Banerjee at a protest rally in Singur
'Should I give the Maoists rasogolla?'
On relationship with Maoists
"I never joined the Maoist movement. This is gossip by the Communist Party of India-Marxist. The CPM members are with the Maoists.
During the day, they are Marxists and in the night, they are Maoists. In the Gyaneshwari Express mishap, according to the charge-sheet, the Maoists are involved. When the case starts, the people can join the lawyers to bring out the involvement of others. My apprehension still remains.
Should I give the Maoists rasogolla? It was our commitment that we will go for negotiations. It is a democratic process. But in West Bengal, there was no democracy and we restored democracy. If the Maoists on one hand point the gun and kill people and some other organisations also kills people under their name, then I can't go for talks.
Maoists might have some ideology. I want negotiations for peace and development. But if the Maoists kill people, the police can't remain silent. If a terrorist group kills people, the police will have to see that law and order is restored. It is the duty of the police to see that people live in peace."
Image: A file photo of the Gyaneshwari Express mishap
'We are not begging for anything'
On her relationship with the Centre and the 'Bengal package'
"I have not asked for a Bengal package. It is the propaganda of the people. We are not begging for anything from anybody. Why did the central govt allow them to have debt of Rs two lakh three thousand crore? What will we do? I don't need the package. Why should I pay Rs 15 thousand crore? Where will the fund for development come from? This is not our fault. We have registered a growth of at least 21 per cent in these six months. I am not at all asking for a package.
They have given the loan to the earlier government. If I have to set up the industry as well, how can I pay the Rs 15 thousand crore debt? We are going ahead with the development agenda. We are in the process of revenue generation".
On her relationship with the United Progressive Alliance
"We are a regional party. It is a natural relationship. I don't want to comment on it".
Image: A CPI-M rally
'Enough is enough'
On price rise and fuel price hike
"It is an alliance government (at the Centre). The Congress is the majority party. They take decisions on policy matters. I have only one Cabinet minister. We are a pro-people party and we take our stand at times.
Within the last twelve months, the fuel price has increased by eleven times. That time I came to know that a proposal to increase domestic gas cylinder price to Rs 900 was pending with the GoM. Then I thought that enough is enough. The hike in fuel price, kerosene and gas price will burn the (common man's) kitchen."
Image: A rally against fuel price rise
'This is not threatening of blackmailing'
On UPA's failure to control the price rise and Trinamool Congress's threats to pull out
"I am not an economist. But what I feel is that we have to take care of the people. We have a concern about the people and price hike and the government must take care of the people. I am not threatening to pull out. If you are not delivering, only talking about aam aadmi is not enough.
I'm not saying it as an ultimatum or a threat. The media can say that. But as a part of the government and being an ally, we must raise our voice. This is not threatening of blackmailing. For the first time, they have decreased the fuel price. So there is a provision (for that). Now the government should bring in some mechanism so that people don't suffer."
Image: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
'I saved the lives of Hindus and Muslims'
On a coordination committee for UPA
"I am not saying anything on that as it is not there yet. They are the national party and let them decide on it. We have only one Cabinet minister and they take our views as the minority view in the Cabinet. So we feel lonely at times in that sense."
On relationship with the Bengal unit of the Congress
"I don't think the Congress is an important party there (in Bengal). Because of us, they have got so many seats this time. I have a good relationship with the national leadership. The government does not have any problems. But at party level, they have the phobia of a national party and treat us as a regional party. So there are some problems.
In the state they have low capacity. But the CPM harmads are with them. But I have no problems."
On the Bhawanipur police station incident, when she allegedly forced policemen to free Trinamool activists who had been arrested for creating ruckus
"Don't accuse me without knowing the details (of the incident). I saved the lives of Hindus and Muslims that day. Next day it was Bakri-Id. It was Congress members who had attacked the police station."
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee