KOLKATA: Like cricketers celebrating with Champagne after an epic innings, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday spent more than `1 core on her 100th ‘public administrative district meeting’ in Burdwan with a gala dinner to earn publicity for the Assembly polls due next year.
At a time when the state is reeling under `82,000 crore debt, Mamata arranged an expensive dinner for more than 400 people, including most of the state ministers, bureaucrats, Trinamool Congress leaders and Panchayat members, after the meeting.
However, not all those who attended the meeting could enjoy the sumptuous dinner as they were divided into three categories.
For the nearly 400 ministers, bureaucrats, TMC legislators and some VIPs, , who were taken from the city in SUVs and Volvo buses, there was a buffet comprising 13 courses, including the expensive hilsa fish, lobsters, bhetki fry, pabda fish curry, mutton and chicken curries, mishti doi (Bengal’s sweet curd) and four kinds of sweets.
But the second and third category of invitees had to remain contented with food packets. The junior officers and clerks, numbering about 700 who actually worked for days to organise the event, were given packets containing vegetable sandwich, fried knicknacks, vegetable cutlet, chilly paneer, packed fruit juice, a sweet and a fruit.
For the third category like security personnel, drivers and other employees, comprising 1,600 people, who actually toiled hard in the sizzling heat to make the meeting a success, packets containing only a vegetable sandwich, a snack, a sweet, a fruit and packed fruit juice were distributed. The food itself cost more than `10 lakh.
Meanwhile Mamata, blaming the erstwhile Left Front Government for the fund crunch in the state, said in her speech, “Our funds are depleted as we have to refund our loans and pay interest on thousands of crores borrowed by the former Left Front Government.”
“We cannot provide employment due to lack of funds. It is also the main hurdle for development as without money no work could be done. However we are working with restraint and this could be the ‘Model of India’,” she claimed. After the meeting, Didi addressed a public meeting at the Burdwan police lines from a dais fitted with five turbo ACs.