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With funds worth Rs 22,000 crore already in the kitty, Why Mamata asked for more relief?

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Earlier in the day, when Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi there was a speculation that whether the meeting was to talk about the CBI pilling pressure on Trinamool Congress or was it really about the word on debt relief.

Well, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reply to Mamata Banerjee has kept the CBI angle alive and it indicates that the Centre is not going to go easy on West Bengal government.

Responding to the request by Mamata Banerjee for debt relief and relief from interest payments, Narendra Modi said that the West Bengal has adequate funds to meet its development needs.

Narendra Modi said that the Union Government has decided to give West Bengal the royalty on coal and other minerals which will provide Rs 1,600 crore to the state annually. In addition, West Bengal will also get Rs 11,200 crore from the coal blocks that have been auctioned so far and there will even more revenue in future.

Expressing his belief in ‘Cooperative Federalism’ he said that the Central Government has also agreed to devolve 42% of the divisible pool of taxes to states for the next five years. He also pointed to the fact that West Bengal is getting an additional Revenue Deficit Grant along with only two other non-Special Category States.

Including all the other benefits that the state is getting, the additional transfers will add up to 22,000 crore, which is an increase of 80% as compared to the year 2014-2015.

The Prime Minister said that given all these financial benefits, West Bengal is better placed as compared to the past and has adequate funds to meet its development needs fully.

If there were so many funds already in the kitty of West Bengal government, the question remains-Why Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Modi?

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Oli Assures Modi, Nepal’s Territory Won’t Be Used Against India’s Interests

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

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Gokhale said that Modi's two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations
KP Sharma Oli, PM of Nepal, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.

“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.

Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.

There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.

Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.

“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.

He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Modi is on Nepal visit for two days, wikimedia commons

According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.

Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.

Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.

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He also held extensive discussions with Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties after which he said: “All misunderstandings with Nepal are over.”

Modi also met leaders of opposition parties, starting with former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other members of the Nepali Congress.

He exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties with former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. (IANS)

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