Mamata takes strong exception to Bengal's comparison with Gujarat

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 15, 2013 14:10 hrs

Haldia (West Bengal) Jan 15 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday took strong exception over the comparison of her state with Narendra Modi's Gujarat on the industry front, saying the western state enjoyed geographical, demographical and financial advantages.

"There is some media which are based here here but sing paeans to Gujarat. I am happy at that, but one must not forget that Gujarat has huge geographical and business potential. They have a huge advantage over us," Banerjee said here addressing an investors' summit.

"Gujarat has 17 ports while we have only two. Moreover, their population density is lower than ours, while their area is more than us. They do not have huge financial debts like we have," she said, addressing the second edition of 'Bengal Leads' in this industrial town in East Midnapore district, some 120 km from Kolkata.

Banerjee's comments were a reference to constant comparison in a section of media between 'Bengal Leads' and 'Vibrant Gujarat' - a similar investors' meet hosted by the Modi government where the who's who of the industry was present. In contrast, the Bengal version was mostly devoid of big names.

"Gujarat has a revenue of over Rs.35,000 crore annually and they do not have to pay any interest on debts while we earn only Rs.26,000 crore and all of it goes towards servicing the debts which was incurred by the (erstwhile) Left Front government," she added.

Continuing her attack on the previous regime, she said that Bengal had to cope with regular shutdowns and strikes while the Bharatiya Janata Party-governed state had no such trouble.

During her address, she also mentioned her effort as the then railways minister to set up a railway track within '12 hours' to facilitate movement of rescue and relief work to the quake hit Bhuj district of Gujarat in 2001.

"The relief material was stranded due to destruction of rail and road network and everybody was concerned. But I said 'Give me just 12 hours'. And you won't believe I completed the setting of the railway track within 12 hours to allow the relief material to reach the affected people in Bhuj area," said Banerjee.

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