Montek apologizes to Mamata

Montek apologises to MamataNEW DELHI: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has apologized to Chief Minister of east Indian West Bengal state Mamata Banerjee for the unruly mob behavior outside his office targeting her and her Cabinet colleagues and said steps need to be taken to avoid such situations in the future.

“There was unruly behavior by mob outside the Planning Commission…I did apologies to her…I think she was very graceful,” Ahluwalia told NDTV on Wednesday.

“Nobody has ever used a Chief Minister’s visit to the Planning Commission as an opportunity to have a political protest. Frankly, we will have to think about how to prevent such a thing from happening (in the future),” he added.

A group of about 150 protesters from CPI-M (Communist Party of India (Marxist)) and SFI (Students’ Federation of India) ambushed the Chief Minister and other ministers including state Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Tuesday when they arrived at Planning Commission complex for annual state plan talks.

Ahluwalia also said Banerjee “certainly did not blame the Planning Commission” for the incident, but she did say that the administration should have handled it in better way.

He said a Chief Minister’s visit to Planning Commission to discuss annual plan was an important government function and it was “totally absurd” for political parties to use that opportunity to interrupt process.

To a query whether the Planning Commission was “very generous” in giving 17 per cent hike in Plan, Ahluwalia said: “I don’t want to say we are not generous, but we do not discriminate” between states as funds are allocated as per well-defined criteria.

“I think she has done quite well last year, according to most of the indicators and we were very happy to approve the plan,” he said, adding, most of the plan would be financed from West Bengal’s own resources.

When asked about the criticism that the government has rushed to implement the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme with an eye on elections, Ahluwalia said same critics have been saying government is not moving fast enough in many other areas.

“Quite frankly, I regard this as understandable but a politically opportunistic criticism…I don’t think this is connected with general elections,” he said. –PTI

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