Kolkata: Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Saturday that political leaders should be more concerned about the common people rather than winning personal laurels.
“Everybody should think about the common masses of the country rather than the creamy section of the society. Because the creamy section is only one percent and common masses make the rest of the 99 percent of the population,” she said.
Infuriated over the hike in diesel prices and nod to FDI in retail, Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is the United Progressive Alliance’s second largest constituent, reminded the Congress not to cross the “Lakshman Rekha” (red line).
Reiterating her 72-hour deadline for the central government to rethink or face a “tough decisions”, she said her party did not agree with the UPA’s “anti-people” decisions.
“We are not in favour of toppling the government. But they should not forget the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ of the alliance. We will not agree with any anti-people decisions. We have given 72-hour deadline to rethink… if you roll back, it’s good. But if not, then be ready to face the consequences as we will take our own decision,” she said, addressing a protest rally here.
Banerjee, who Saturday led a mammoth protest rally here, said: “I request the people not to misjudge us if we take very hard decisions. Please remember we can’t be a party to anti-people policies. If we take a hard decision… it is for the masses.”
The fiery politician from West Bengal along with several Trinamool MPs and her entire cabinet walked for more than 5 km during the protest.
“I don’t agree with such economic reforms which are anti-people because I believe in economic reforms which concern the grass root, the masses. Leaders should stop taking decisions which help only four-five people for gaining personal laurels from handful of people. It is a matter of entire country.
“What does reforms mean? Does it mean selling the country to foreign corporate houses and powers? What is wrong with them… in two consecutive days they have planned to sell everything… So many anti-people decisions within two days,” said an infuriated Banerjee.
Her comments seemed to be aimed at the prime minister, who has backed the reforms.
“These reforms may be digested (accepted) by one part of the government but will not be digested (accepted) by the other part of the government… This is a coalition government,” she added.
The government Thursday announced a hike in diesel price by Rs.5 a litre and capped the supply of subsidised cooking gas cylinders per family to six per year. The next day, it decided to allow up to 51 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.
The business community has hailed the decision of Manmohan Singh, who has been credited to have started the economic reforms in the country in 1990s.
Banerjee also lashed out at the central government by accusing it of fooling the state governments.
“They (Congress) should stop thinking that except them everybody is a fool. They are saying that there is an option for the states to decide whether to allow FDI (in retail) in their states or not. But how would that be possible after the union government passes a decision… Every state would have to abide by it,” she said.
Banerjee also demanded that the central government should take steps to bring back money stashed abroad in tax havens to solve the economic problems faced by the country.
The West Bengal Chief Minister also said that each family should be provided with at least 24 subsidised LPG cylinders every year.