Expressing dismay over the 'thief' slur levelled at her Trinamool Congress party by the opposition, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she had not accepted a single paisa nor taken even a cup of tea from anyone.
The erstwhile Left Front government was corrupt as one crore fake ration cards were detected after the TMC came to power defeating the coalition in 2011 and those were later scrapped, she said while addressing a programme in her Bhawanipore assembly constituency here.
Her comments came amid the hullabaloo over the arrest of senior minister Jyoti Priya Mallick by the ED last month in connection with its probe into ration supply scam. Several other party leaders were also arrested by central agencies for their alleged involvement in corruption cases.
Opposition BJP has been describing the TMC regime and the party leaders as thieves.
"There might have been problems by certain individuals, but we made great efforts in cleaning up the system for seven-eight years. Have we taken one cup of tea with other's money? I did not take one single paisa. I do not take the Rs 1.25 lakh monthly pension (as an MP)," she said.
Claiming that the TMC government's move to scrap the fake ration cards led to zero starvation deaths during the Covid pandemic, Banerjee said people should compare the hunger allegedly suffered by the population at Jangalmahal region in the southern part of the state during the rule of the CPI(M)-led Left Front.
"I was stunned to discover that people eat ants at Birpahari when I went there as an opposition MP, the TMC supremo said.
Banerjee also asked people not to allow those "who never spare a chance to speak ill against me to go near her when she dies.
She said that as her government is pro-people, those who had given farmland at Singur for Tata's small car project and were unable to till it even after getting it back, are still getting Rs 2,000 as a monthly allowance apart from rice.
Reiterating her criticism of the BJP-led government at the Centre for alleged non-clearance of dues for the MGNREGA project, she said, "Giving wages to those who have toiled for the 100 days' work is mandatory and Rs 7000 crore is due to the state."
"The allocation of funds for Awas Yojana and Gramin Sarak Yojana has been stopped. The state bears 60 per cent cost of the central projects but the Centre takes away all the money. We must protest against this," she said.
Banerjee called upon the people to join the fight and save the country from those who are running it in an authoritarian manner.
"This country belongs to all communities, this state belongs to all irrespective of caste, creed and language," she said.
In an apparent jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a cricket stadium named after him at Ahmedabad, she said, "I believe in doing work as much as I can. But I don't believe in self-publicity like others. I don't name stadium after me," she added.
The chief minister said the just concluded Durga Puja festival brought in 40,000 foreign tourists to the state, including Kolkata.
She also said that the Red Road Carnival in which select idols of goddess Durga are showcased can be compared to the Rio Carnival in Brazil.