In a first-ever attempt at quick response, the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted back to counter Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s charge that the UPA Government adopted “discriminatory” approach towards the non-Congress ruled states.
“The Centre has allocated funds to states according to mutually agreed formula for economic justice,” the PMO posted on Twitter, within minutes of the broadcast of Modi’s remarks, made at the Kolkata Merchants Chambers of Commerce. Being a first-of-its-kind, this long distance Kolkata-New Delhi sparring via media generated a bit of mirth in the political circles since it was as much about wooing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as it was about the uneven Centre-state relations.
Mamata and her Trinamool Congress could be the swing factor for both Manmohan Singh and Modi. While the UPA Government needs Mamata’s tacit support for its survival (and is wooing her with an offer of a special package under the backward region grants scheme), the BJP and Modi would like to have her back in the NDA fold to increase their alliance tally in the run-up to the 2014 elections.
Sources here point out how Modi ignored the fact that Mamata left for Delhi a day before he arrived in Kolkata and fully endorsed her anti-Centre, anti-Left views. Modi quipped in Kolkata: “The Congress had created such potholes (in Gujarat) that it took me so much time to fill them.
“In West Bengal, the Left government created these potholes for 32 years. I don’t know how many years of efforts it will take before they are filled. I believe efforts are being made to fill these potholes and I am confident that the dreams of the people will be fulfilled.”
It is undoubtedly a backhand complement to Mamata. Not always known to get into the thick of politics, the PMO on Tuesday seemed to be trying just that by not only countering Modi’s charge, but also by trying to tell that some of the backward states have done better than developed states.
“Most developing states have improved their GDP growth during the last Five Year Plan. States that used to grow slowly in earlier periods have done much better,” the PMO tweeted.
The comparison was obviously between Nitish Kumar’s Bihar and Modi’s Gujarat; the two CMs are rivals in politics, despite being in the same alliance camp. Of late, there has been much speculation about Nitish, an old NDA groupie, tilting towards the UPA in anticipation of the BJP projecting Modi as their prime ministerial candidate.