Mamata ridicules UPA's austerity drive

Kolkata, Sep 19 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday ridiculed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance's austerity drive, saying she doesn't find any substance behind the move.

"In the fifth year of the government, the UPA is talking about austerity. They are saying there will be no new jobs. What have they been doing for so long? I don't see any substance behind the move, rather it's aimed at getting electoral benefits," Banerjee said, addressing a rally in Kanksa in Burdwan district.

Grappling with economic crisis, the UPA Wednesday unveiled austerity measures putting a freeze on fresh appointments, banning officials' meetings in five-star hotels, and prohibiting officials from executive class air travel -- all in a bid to check fiscal deficit from going out of control.

Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress chief, has been critical of the UPA regime ever since she walked out of the coalition at the centre last year and said the fate of the Congress in the next election was sealed.

Referring to communal discords in certain parts of the country, Banerjee said neither Hindus nor Muslims or people from any other community want to indulge in riots, and blamed political parties who are out of power of fermenting communal disharmony.

"Those who indulge in riots are nothing but miscreants. Those who are not in power try to incite riots for political gains," said Banerjee.

Banerjee also said her government will soon start compensating poor investors who have been financially ruined by the Saradha Group chit fund scam - the state's biggest financial scandal.

"We have set up an inquiry commission and created a fund of Rs.500 crore. Before the Durga Pujas, we will try to compensate about 1 lakh people who have been affected by the chit fund scam," she said, adding that the state government was dependent on the permission of the inquiry commission.

"Over 16 lakh people have applied for compensation. We cannot compensate them in one go. It will take time for all to be compensated," she added.

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