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The PM can speak his mind, I will speak mine: Mamata Banerjee

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Kolkata, Apr 04: West Bengal has already run into losses worth thousands of crores of rupees due to the ongoing lockdown, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday, but asserted that she took pride in the fact that her government still managed to credit the salaries of employees on time.

She said the state government has disbursed an amount of Rs 35,10,200 towards social pension for a period of two months.

Mamata Banerjee

"Do you have any idea how much we have lost in these few days of lockdown? Several thousand crores.... We have no earning, but only burning," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

"Ours is the only government which has paid salaries on the first day of the month. What will they eat otherwise?" she said.

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The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo said there are many states, which do not owe a heavy debt to the Centre like West Bengal, but have emptied their treasuries during the lockdown.

"There are many states that do not need to repay a debt of Rs 50,000 crore like us, yet their treasuries are empty. There are several states who could not pay the full salary to employees...a few paid only 40 per cent...I can take pride in it that we could," she said.

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging people to light lamps, candles or switch the flashlights of their mobile phones for nine minutes at 9 pm on April 5, she said those who believe in the PM's message can follow his instructions.

"The prime minister will speak his mind and I will speak mine. I cannot interfere in someone else's matter.... If you think that the prime minister has said something good, follow it...it is a personal decision," Banerjee said.

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She rubbished reports that the lockdown was being violated in Kolkata and certain rural areas of the state.

Without taking the name of any political party, the Chief Minister said there are a few who are trying to "play politics" with the distribution of rice, wheat and pulses through the Public Distribution System (PDS).

"They are claiming that the Centre has provided the rice...but how can that be possible...the PDS is run by the state government," she said.

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