Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the 1st day of Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today displayed uncommon bonhomie, on the stage, at the Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata.
"Political differences should not block the road to development," said Ms Banerjee at the summit and her chief guest Arun Jaitley broadly echoed that.
But the bonhomie between Ms Banerjee and her chief guest did not last long.
Just a couple of hours after Mr Jaitley left the summit venue, he took on Ms Banerjee's party the Trinamool Congress, accusing it of paralysing Parliament as a political reaction to some of its members coming under the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI's scanner over the Saradha chit fund scam.
"The Trinamool is feeling troubled. Not politically by us, but because corrupt members of the party are being exposed before the nation by the CBI," Mr Jaitley said at a party meeting in Howrah.
"And its reaction is, because some of our colleagues are entangled in the chit fund scam, we will not allow the Parliament to function," he said.
"Madam Chief Minister," he said, "You have a mandate to rule the state and deliver what was promised. The same goes for us in Delhi. The strength of India is despite these differences, in all areas where the states want to prosper, the Centre will help."
The Chief Minister was extremely upbeat about the summit. When asked if the bonhomie with Mr Jaitely would extend to the Rajya Sabha, she didn't comment. "This is a very good conference. I request you to be positive," she said.
She also dismissed comparisons between the investor summit and Vibrant Gujarat, the state's investor meet, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi is from that state and that is Gujarat's biggest advantage.
Meanwhile, the high-profile guests at the investor summit celebrated the improvement in ties between the Centre and the state.
"I think it's a good thing he came here. I think it will help Bengal," said industrialist Adi Godrej. Jyotsna Suri, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Lalith Group, added, "The finance minister has promised to support West Bengal. The collaboration between the Centre and the state - that is the big takeaway for me."
Several Trinamool leaders were shocked when told what Mr Jaitley had said at the party meet in Howrah and refused to respond.
"They belong to one party. We are another party. There will be differences," said Firhad Hakim, state urban development minister.