Addressing a gathering of minorities at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Mamata virtually began her panchayat poll campaign by launching a vitriolic attack against both the CPM and Congress. In order to consolidate her vote bank among the minorities, she also gave details of schemes the Trinamool government is implementing as well as planning to execute.
“We have done a lot for the minorities and we wish to do more. But the condition of the state exchequer is the worst. Let the people of West Bengal cutting across all barriers raise their voice against the discriminatory attitude of the Centre. On the first day of month, the Centre takes away whatever we earn. We have made no mistakes. It is the Left Front that sold the entire state and made it bankrupt. The Left Front and CPM leaders who are responsible for the situation should be punished in front of the people,” Mamata said.
“We are not being allowed to borrow because the RBI has drawn a lakshmanrekha. We do not get what other states receive from the Centre. What is our fault?” the chief minister asked. “The self help groups of other states are given loans but in West Bengal, the groups do not get adequate loan. Why this discrimination?”
Mamata also came down heavily on a section of newspapers and television channels who, she said, constantly criticise the state government for no reason. “A particular newspaper owner wants the urban land ceiling limit to be withdrawn just to do business. But we will never withdraw the ceiling limit because that would force poor people to leave Kolkata,” she said.
Virtually defending chit fund operators, she said, “Newspapers that are speaking against chit fund are getting money through advertisement of chit funds. One newspaper group wants wakf property to be used for their business but we opposed this move. Whatever be the extent of criticism, we will not allow business on wakf property.”
Mamata said her government, despite the acute financial crunch, had achieved many goals that she had promised prior to the Assembly election. “We have decided to construct 29 rural markets where people belonging to minority communities would sell their products. We are constructing eight polytechnic colleges for minority community students,” she said. One medical college for minorities will be set up at Bhangar.
Claiming credit for bringing backward Muslims under Other Backward Class (OBC) quota - an initiative taken by the previous government — Mamata said the Left Front government had brought a “defective Bill in the Assembly to bring only 18 minority community castes in the OBC list”. Because there were defects in the Bill, a court case was lodged.
“Reservation of minorities in jobs is not permitted by the Constitution. This is why we are bringing minority community people belonging to backward classes into OBC quota by adhering to all legal norms,” she said.