'Restrained' Mamata strikes back at Buddha

Siliguri, Jan 28 (IANS) A day after CPI-M veteran Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee ridiculed her for wasting public money on festivals, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee got back at him, despite a "self-imposed restriction on talking".

"Yesterday, somebody was saying we are only celebrating festivals. So, what should we do? Shall we do "shradh" (rituals performed after death)," Banerjee asked, while addressing a rally in this town of Darjeeling district.

Banerjee was referring to Bhattacharjee's comments at a rally Sunday, when he had castigated her for spending public money on festivals.

The Trinamool Congress supremo, on a four-day North Bengal trip, inaugurated the North Bengal Festival and said her government would continue organising fetes as they provide livelihood to artistes and people associated with small and cottage industries.

"Festivals boost the economy of the state as many people come to sell their products. Unlike them (CPI-M), we do not dole out money to party cadre; rather, we use the money for the welfare of the people," Banerjee said.

Banerjee has drawn criticism for talking too long at public functions. She said Monday that she would not talk much, "for people get bored".

While she spoke a little over 15 minutes here, during the inauguration of the 37th International Kolkata Book Fair Jan 26, her speech lasted just seven minutes.

Earlier, at an investors' summit in the city and again during a recent public rally in South 24 Parganas district, the chief minister's speech went on for over an hour. The chief minister's detractors claimed that she had suffered a bout of "verbal diarrhoea".


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