Kolkata, Mar 8: On International Women's Day, one of the most prominent female chief ministers in the country set the cat amongst the pigeons by indicating that the Lok Sabha elections slated for 2014 are just months away.
Addressing a special Women's Day programme here, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee claimed to have done all that she could for West Bengal in her two tenures as the union railway minister.
Stating that she had set up 16 factories for the state, she said: "As for the small amount of work which is still to be done, I will finish that too. This is a matter of only two to three months as the next Lok Sabha elections will occur then."
Though it is not known on what basis she was making such a political prediction, Banerjee seemed to be quite sure of herself. She even averred that the ministry of railways could again be held by a member of her party.
It is noteworthy that all three of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's immediate predecessors belonged to the Trinamool Congress. Banerjee herself was the first one while Dinesh Trivedi was the second. However, he upset Banerjee by hiking train fares despite her diktat not to do so. He was forced to resign.
Trivedi was succeeded by Mukul Roy but he also had to quit within a short while as Trinamool Congress walked out of the UPA over issues like 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, steep petrol price hike and cap on LPG cylinders.
Banerjee believes that ever since the party left the ruling coalition, a step-motherly attitude has been adopted towards her state. "If someone thinks that they will stifle Bengal's voice and stop railway projects, they can't do it," she said.
Banerjee hit out at the media for criticising her performance. "When I was railway minister, every day some channels used to telecast that cockroaches and rats are roaming through train compartments. Have they all gone to America now?" she asked.
The chief minister pointed out the high interest the state was paying on the loans which were given by the Centre. "Bengal earns 21,000 crore in revenue per year but a total of Rs 26,000 crore goes to the central exchequer from the state's coffers," Banerjee said.