POLITICS

Mamata Banerjee Meets Narendra Modi, Discusses Developmental Issues

"There was no discussion about the (July) presidential election with the Prime Minister."

25/05/2017 9:39 PM IST | Updated 25/05/2017 9:40 PM IST
ANI/ Twitter

NEW DELHI -- West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for restructuring the state's debts and urged him to take up with Bangladesh the issue of decreased flow of Atrai river water into her state.

The meeting in which the Chief Minister talked about "issues of development" came on a day when a BJP protest march in West Bengal capital Kolkata turned violent, leaving a large number of people, including police personnel, injured.

"The talks were about developmental issues; there was no discussion about the (July) presidential election with the Prime Minister," Banerjee told the media after the meeting.

The Trinamool Congress supremo is slated to attend a Friday meeting of opposition leaders hosted by Congress President Sonia Gandhi to discuss the presidential election -- said a "consensus candidate as President is better for the country".

"The President is the custodian of the Indian Constitution. It will be very good for the entire country if we have a consensus candidate, much like (late President) A.P.J. Abdul Kalam," the Chief Minister said.

On 16 May, she held talks with Sonia Gandhi on the issue of fielding a common presidential nominee by the opposition.

"I told the Prime Minister that it is imperative to restructure the debt of several states, particularly West Bengal. ₹10,500 crore is due to Bengal under various central schemes, of which we have got only ₹2,000 crore. I urged him to release the funds at the earliest. He said he will look into the matter," she said.

Banerjee earlier met Modi on 10 April to seek release of funds.

On river water issue, she said: "Because Bangladesh has constructed a rubber dam on Atrai river, South Dinajpur is not getting water. On the other hand, there is flood when excess water is released from the dam. This has caused huge problems for our people."

Banerjee also took up the issue of Churni river in Nadia district of Bengal which was polluted by inflow from Bangladesh. Churni is a distributory of the Mathabhanga river originating in Bangladesh.

She said Bangladesh has also doubled the import duty on mangoes, causing distress to Bengal growers. "I urged the Prime Minister to take up the issues with the Bangladesh government."

Commenting on Thursday's violence in Kolkata, Banerjee accused the BJP and the CPI-M of unleashing violence in the name of protests.

"It is BJP and the CPI-M who have unleashed violence. Democratic movement does not mean resorting to violence which the CPI-M and BJP are doing," said Banerjee.

Security forces used water canons, batons, and lobbed teargas shells on Bharatiya Janata Party supporters, who also hurled bricks during their march in protest against the law and order in the state. The rallyists alleged fake cases were lodged against party workers.

A similar protest march by Left peasants bodies on March 22 too had turned violent and left at least 79 police personnel and over 100 Left protesters injured.

Showing pictures and videos from her mobile, Banerjee claimed police personnel, including women, were assaulted by the BJP and Left activists during their protest marches.

"You can see how they have beaten up the police. Even women personnel were not spared. You can see how government properties have been destroyed and vehicles burnt," she said showing a video of an unconscious policeman lying on the road as also pictures of policemen being assaulted allegedly by protesters and several vehicles set on fire.

"It's them who have assaulted the police but are spreading misinformation. They (protesters) carried bamboo sticks and stones to the march. Is this a democratic movement? They don't have any issue but are indulging in violence only."

"The CPI-M and BJP are competing with each other in unleashing violence. The CPI-M has lost its existence and thus resorting to all sort of violent means; the BJP too is walking down the same path," added Banerjee.

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