Mamata to raise bank merger, PSU issues with Modi

KOLKATA: Describing her trip to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “routine” and a “constitutional obligation”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said she would raise the issue of bank merger, BSNL salary issues and disinvestment of PSUs like Air India.

Banerjee is slated to meet Modi at 4.30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“At times we have to go to Delhi on government work as it is the national capital. I have to go there from time to time in connection with the affairs of the state. It is a routine thing,” Banerjee said while leaving the state secretariat Nabanna on way to the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport.

Banerjee reminded the reporters that she hasn’t visited Delhi for a long time. “I am going there because some money, which my state is due to get, is pending,” she said.

Banerjee said the issues of PSUS like BSNL, Air India and Railways will figure during the talks. “They are facing lot of problems. They have nowhere to go. So they come to us. I will speak for them.”

The Modi government has expressed its preference for opening up some sections of the Indian Railways for investment from the private sector.

As regards to Air India, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said last week the government is determined to privatise the national carrier.

The Telecom PSU is under financial stress and has not paid salaries to its 1.76 lakh employees for August.

The central government has also announced the mega-merger of 10 PSU banks into four, following which number of state-run banks will come down from 27 to 12, to ensure better management of capital and resulting in “stronger banks”.

Banerjee has strongly opposed the decision of bank merger.

Banerjee said the long-pending issue of changing the name of West Bengal to Bangla might also be put on the table.

The state assembly had on June 26 last year passed a resolution to change the name of the state to ‘Bangla’ in all three languages–Bengali, English and Hindi – and sent the proposal to the Union Home Ministry on August 21.

Banerjee said other matters might also crop up during the parleys, but did not wish to elaborate any further saying “it won’t look nice to speak anything beforehand.”

“It’s a courtesy meeting. I am going because it is my routine duty, there is a constitutional obligation. The central government is also an elected government. We meet each other to work for the country.”

The state’s opposition parties have raised questions over Banerjee calling on Modi at a time when her blue-eyed officer Rajeev Kumar, who has been accused by the CBI of tampering with evidence in the multi-billion Saradha ponzi scam case, is under the scanner of the federal agency with the Calcutta High Court withdrawing the interim protection from arrest it had earlier given to the top cop.

A number of state ministers, elected representatives and political heavy-weights belonging to the Trinamool have either been arrested or grilled in connection with the financial scandal.
IANS

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