Trinamool confident of getting financial aid from Centre

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New Delhi, Aug 24: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) looked confident of receiving aid from the Centre following the latest rounds of talks between the party supremo and WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram. The Trinamool-led government in Bengal has been at loggerheads with the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre over various issues, including provision of financial aid. Mamata Banerjee even sought a three-year moratorium on the financial package from the Centre.

According to her, Bengal was so badly debt-ridden that it would not make sense if it did not get the moratorium. She did not accept the package of Rs 18,000 crore prepared by a committee earlier when Pranab Mukherjee was the Union Finance Minister since the question of moratorium remained unsettled. But the latest rounds of talks on the second day of Mamata's visit to New Delhi hinted that the Centre would eventually help the Bengal government to overcome its economic woes.

The TMC supremo, however, kept her fingers crossed and said her party would sustain the pressure on the Centre till the aid actually materialised. State Finance Minister Amit Mitra is scheduled to meet Chidambaram in the capital over the matter soon.

TMC sources felt the current political crisis over Coalgate would force the Congress-led government to meet many demands of the Mamata to ensure that its alliance was kept intact.

However, sources in the Union Finance Ministry said the demand of granting a moratorium to West Bengal might not be possible for it could, to the other states, also making similar demands. Instead, they said efforts were on to find out a way to improve the financial conditions of Bengal without actually waiving the interest. It is learnt that the ministry was thinking of charging low interests from the state over longer repayment periods and also to loosen norms of loan repayment. It is not clear, however, whether the TMC leader would accept such arrangement.

Meanwhile, the party sources said that its MPs would raise a strong demand for financial aid for the state during a dharna to be held under the statue of Mahatma Gandhi next Monday.

Banerjee, during her meeting with the central ministers, also raised the issue of hike in fertiliser prices and poor condition of the national highways in Bengal. She also opposed the proposal of FDI in sectors like retail and pension. It has been proved worldwide that foreign investment harms small farmers and businessmen.

OneIndia News

(With inputs from Anandabazar Patrika)

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