TT, Calcutta, Aug. 26: Mamata Banerjee today gave the Centre three months to restructure Bengal’s debt burden, hours after her government decided not to pass in the current Assembly session the constitutional amendment to facilitate the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST).
“I am giving the Centre three months. Within that, our demands for debt restructuring and lessening of our repayment burden have to be met and the Centre has to stop interfering in state matters,” the chief minister said at a rally on Mayo Road to mark the foundation day of the Trinamul student wing.
Referring to the state’s tax revenue, Mamata said her government earned around Rs 40,000 crore annually, but would have to shell out Rs 50,000 crore to service the cumulative debt of nearly Rs 3 lakh crore.
Most debt-related deductions from the state’s kitty are made directly by the Reserve Bank of India and the Centre virtually has no role in it.
“I am a street fighter. I have come up from street politics. I have no issues going back to the streets. I will bring Delhi to its knees by occupying its streets with lakhs of people,” Mamata said.
Hours before her address, the state government had shelved its plan of passing in the current Assembly session the constitutional amendment to facilitate the GST.
Without offering an explanation, parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee told the business advisory committee that the government was no longer in favour of tabling the amendment in the Assembly on Monday, as had been announced weeks ago.
“We need more time to discuss the matter,” he said later, refusing to elaborate.
Gujarat, Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand have already passed the amendment. The Centre needs such approval from 15 states for presidential assent to the GST. Trinamul sources said the decision against passing the GST amendment was taken to use it as a tool of bargain with the Centre.
A Trinamul MLA stressed the importance of maintaining distance from the BJP to stitch together a national front of non-BJP parties.
In keeping with that stand, Mamata today launched a withering personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for reducing the central share in some schemes.
“Narendra Modi has either stopped disbursing funds or has drastically cut down on allocations for numerous projects and schemes. He is trying to save money. If you don’t spend on basic welfare, of course you will save money. But what will you spend the money on? Another expensive coat for another ridiculous mention in the Guinness Book of World Records?” she asked.
The chief minister was referring to the suit Modi wore during a meeting last year with US President Barack Obama that was reportedly stitched at a cost of Rs 10 lakh and fetched Rs 4.31 crore at an auction later.