Mamata urges Centre to hike DA for all states

Lashing out at the Centre for offering to increase dearness allowance (DA) to Central government employees as “nothing more than a pre-poll sop”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday stated that the Union government should come forward and increase the DA for all employees under all state governments.

“Whenever the Centre announces DA, state government employees should be given it on a par (with Central government employees). The Centre gives it to Central government employees before elections. What will state government employees do?” asked Banerjee.  She also called the DA hike a “dirty trick” by the Congress-led UPA at the Centre.

Banerjee added that hiking the DA of Central government employees is a move to prove that the Centre is a better employer; it has more money than the states and can afford to make any announcements it deems necessary to win elections. “We want the Centre to pay the DA for (state government) employees too,” said Banerjee. Pointing out that paying DA at the hiked rate would cost the state exchequer Rs 6,900 crore, the chief minister asked, “How will we be able to afford it when the Central government is taking all the money from us?”

Banerjee, who was speaking at a convention of state government employees organised under the banner of the Paschimbanga Sarkari Karmachari Federation, said the matter had also been taken up with the Finance Commission.

Maintaining her fiery rhetoric, Banerjee reiterated that the Union government had stopped funds for various Central schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and the MGNREGS.

While the gathered state government employees had hoped she would announce a hike in DA at the convention, Banerjee expressed her inability to do so, instead lambasting the Centre for refusing to provide a moratorium for interest on loans taken by the previous Left Front government.

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