Lalgarh: Union Minister Jairam Ramesh attacked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday, questioning her claim that the Centre was not providing funds to her government and said she was "not a good administrator".
"Mamataji is a good political leader but she is not a good administrator. She claims that the Centre has not given any financial assistance to West Bengal but it not true," Mr Ramesh, Union Minister for Rural Development, told a Congress meeting in the erstwhile Maoist stronghold of 'Jangalmahal'.
"In fact, we have given Rs 13,000 crore in the last one year only for the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana and another Rs 2,700 crore for building 5,500 km of road for rural development," he said.
He claimed central assistance given for socio-economic development of indigenous people was not properly used either by the erstwhile Left Front government or by the Trinamool Congress government in the past one-and-a-half years of its rule.
"This has made the people to seek change again...The people will vote for Congress both in coming panchayat polls and in 2016 assembly polls," he claimed.
Referring to the peaceful situation prevailing in Jangalmahal, he said it was not created solely by the state.
"Whatever Mamata Banerjee might say, she cannot deny the role of central forces in re-establishing peace in Lalgarh...Central forces are still deployed here," he said.
In an obvious reference to Ms Banerjee often dubbing Congress as the B team of CPI(M), he said "many leaders were born within Congress, they got all the benefits and then hit the party. But Congress is alive. None can eliminate Congress from the state. We will face the challenge."
Ms Banerjee's bete noir Deepa Dasmunshi, Union Minister of State for Urban Development said money given by the Centre to West Bengal for development is being 'misused' by the chief minister either for Trinamool programmes or for her own publicity.
"People have seen through the announcements made by the chief minister and her promises to provide jobs. The people know they are only empty words.
"I have regard for Mamata for fighting a long battle to oust the CPI-M. But her shortcoming is that once she has attained her goal she forgets her 'true friends'," Ms Dasmunshi said.
Union Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury too hit out at Ms Banerjee saying 'impractical announcements' were made by her during her days as the Railway Minister. "She had sanctioned money for projects in West Bengal without thinking where the money would come from.
Referring to the political environment in the state, he alleged that there was no change under the Trinamool Congress.
"The Maoists in this jungle area have become her (Banerjee's) followers. The TMC men are doing what the CPI-M used to do - prevent people from coming to our (Congress) meetings and tear our flags."
AH Khan Chowdhury, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, said health services in the state were the worst in the country.
"After assuming charge, I had written to her (Banerjee) for a discussion on how to improve the situation (in the state) but she has not replied till today. On the contrary, she allied with others (CPI-M, BJP) for toppling the Centre," he said.
West Bengal Congress President and MP Pradeep Bhattacharya said the party will fight the panchayat polls on its own. "We have already started making preparations," he said.
Trinamool Congress will hold a meeting at the same venue today.