Mamata meets PM, urges for early release of Central funds

Bats for use of ballot paper in talks to Cong, NCP leaders
Report by: 
10 Apr 2017

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking early release of funds to the tune of             Rs 10,000 crore due to the state under various centrally sponsored schemes.

In the nearly half-an-hour-long meeting in the morning, Mamata also raised the loan waiver issue with Modi while discussing the state's debt situation. Drawing the PM's attention to the problems arising out of lack of funds, she said dues worth Rs 10,469.01 crore were pending with the Centre for MNREGA, Swachh Bharat Mission, food subsidy among other programmes. The Prime Minister said he would look into it, Mamata, who was in the capital on a four-day visit since Saturday, said here after the meeting.

The West Bengal chief minister, however, declined to say anything on Teesta water sharing issue and said that there was no talk on it with the Prime Minister. The TMC supremo has been one of the most vocal critics of Modi and led the opposition's onslaught on the issue of demonetisation. Mamata, a strong votary of forging an anti BJP-alliance, today also met senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel. Mamata also met NCP leader Praful Patel and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had also met her on Saturday. The meetings assume significance as various non-BJP parties have been calling for a rainbow coalition to stop the march of the saffron party after the UP elections.

The West Bengal chief minister today also urged for the replacement of EVMs with ballot paper, saying "old is always gold". "EVMs can be tampered with, so let's go back to the old system," Mamata said here in an informal interaction with media. The TMC is part of the 13-party delegation meeting the Election Commission to demand that upcoming polls be held with 50 per cent use of paper trail of EVM voting and ballot paper. "If there is any doubt (on EVMs) then let's opt for ballot paper," the TMC supremo said.

Opposition parties are unitedly taking up with the EC the issue of alleged EVM tampering in the recently held elections. She said in a democracy the EC cannot be immune to the demand of the majority of political parties.
"The EC has to abide by the democratic process...when so many political parties are raising it. The EC has to increase its staff strength for counting," she said. Incidentally, the CPM is also part of the joint delegation seeking EVM replacement.