Package for Bengal no quid pro quo for Prez poll
New Delhi: Hours after West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra met Pranab Mukherjee to seek a special financial package for the state, Congress today indicated the crisis-ridden state could be helped but dismissed suggestions on any quid pro quo for the Presidential polls.
"You need to de-segregate these two things. The state seemingly in financial distress reaches out to the central government for certain concessions. It is certainly not seeking quid pro quo for a political initiative or elections," party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters. He said these are "parallel tracks that do not meet".
"It was almost two years back that the Finance Commission had said that the financial conditions of West Bengal, Kerala and Punjab are not good. If any state government–be it Kerala or West Bengal–holds talks with Centre for improving its lot, it should not be linked with politics," Tewari said. The Congress spokesperson was responding to questions whether the Centre will also consider a similar financial package for Uttar Pradesh as ruling Samajwadi Party there is also talking of financial support from the Centre.
Asked about the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee for the top Constitutional post, Tewari said the consultation process with the allies is on and a decision would be reached only after a consensus is reached. Former West Bengal PCC chief Manas Bhuniya had yesterday appealed to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to support Mukherjee if the high command makes him the candidate.
Tewari, however, refrained from commenting whether Bhuniya`s appeal was also part of the consultation process saying there is "no need for hair splitting" and the party will say if anything has to be said. He dubbed as "speculative and hypothetical" a question whether Congress would consult the Opposition on Presidential and Vice Presidential polls.