Uluberia (WB): Continuing her tirade against Congress-led UPA government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday vowed to block FDI in retail in the state to safeguard the interests of poor farmers and retailers.

"They have imposed service tax on fares in AC train coaches, hiked the price of diesel, put a cap on subsidized LPG cylinders and opened the doors to FDI in retail, which will push prices of all essential commodities and is an attack on the poor," the chief minister told a rally in this Howrah district town.

Banerjee said "we will do everything to safeguard the interests of poor farmers and retail traders. We will not permit FDI in retail in our state. How dare they say that only Walmart will be allowed to do business in retail and none other? We will not bow our head to any pressure.

"On the top of it, the Centre has pushed up fertilizer price from Rs 4,000 per tonne to Rs 17,000 per tonne. This shows how pro-people the UPA government is," she said.

She accused the Centre of stopping subsidy in various sectors and said "subsidy comes from people's tax payments in the forms of service tax, income-tax and customs duty.

"The Centre takes away tax from states and gives back nothing. It is just like frying fish in fish oil," she said.

The Trinamool Congress chief said "if they think that they will kill us by stopping funds, they are mistaken. Nobody will be able to take away our rice. We are self-sufficient in paddy production.

"Don't panic. Bengal is not fighting alone. Crores of people in the country are with you. Don't succumb to pressure. We are with you and your cause," she said.

"I can sacrifice my life but will never desert Ma, Mati, Manush (Mother, land and people). I have nothing to fear and it is no use threatening me."

The chief minister said her government had taken steps to set up kisan bazars in every district to boost sale of vegetable growers to do away with the middlemen.


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