Bengal Minister attacks Centre for blatant interference

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Kolkata, Feb 4 (IANS) Attacking the Centre in his budget speech, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Monday said the country’s federal polity has been shaken due to “blatant interference by the Central government” in the affairs of the statutory constitutional institutions and states.

He also accused the Centre of presenting “a full budget just before expiry of tenure with an ulterior motive.”

“The country is passing through a very difficult time. Along with the common people, every institution of the country — be it CBI, ED, RBI, National Statistical Commission, Supreme Court, GST Council or free press — is under threat,” Mitra told the Assembly here.

Mitra said that even an august institution like the Supreme Court was not spared from the Centre’s “blatant interference.”

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Referring to the case of ex-RBI governor Urjit Patel who had to resign before the completion of his tenure last year, Mitra said, “In a similar manner, the Chairman and member of the National Statistical Commission had to resign because the Central government was trying to suppress the real unemployment figures. Now the cat is out of the bag and people of India know that 2017-2018 witnessed the highest unemployment growth in last 45 years.”

Mitra’s comments came at a time when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was holding her sit-in protest since Sunday evening over the CBI’s attempt to question the Kolkata Police chief in connection with a ponzi scheme scam.

In fact, the state cabinet meeting ahead of the budget presentation in the Assembly was held at a chamber adjacent to the sit-in stage.

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In his speech, Mitra said people were fed up with false dreams and were now “realising that all the assurances given to them were only pipe dreams.” Far from doubling farmers’ income, the country was facing severe and unprecedented farm distress, he said.

“The present Central government is throwing all democratic norms to the winds, presenting a full budget just before the expiry of its tenure with an ulterior motive,” Mitra said.

Mamata Banerjee has stood out against this anti-democratic, fascist and communal government at the Centre, he said.

Mitra assured that “the Trinamool government will resist all attempts to vitiate the harmony among different sections of the society in the state and will not allow any nefarious design to divide people on the lines of caste, region and religion.”

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–IANS

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