Salt peppers TMC-Oppn verbal duel

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SummaryMullick blames Cong, CPM, BJP for spreading rumours to fuel crisis, gets called mad in return.

Even as the panic buying of salt subsided, West Bengal food and supplies minister Jyoti Priya Mullick Sunday blamed three Opposition parties — Congress, CPM and NJP — in the state for spreading rumours about the shortage of the essential kitchen commodity.

“The rumour had started in Bihar and spread to Bengal. Congress, CPM and BJP are spreading the rumours further so that the government’s image is tainted,” Mullick said.

He, however, said that a government survey found that state has a stock of “5,65,000 kg of salt” and “another 8,000 tonnes would arrive Monday, which will be “good enough for the next 11 months.”

Mullick said he had visited Birati, Barasat and Madhyamgram and found out that there was no shortage of stock. “Our vigilance team has been pressed into action and food inspectors are also on the lookout for any malpractices,” he said and added that two helplines - 1967 and 1800345505 - had been put up for the people if they faced any problem or malpractice in buying salt.

Meanwhile, members of the Opposition, however, have reacted sharply to the minister’s comments. Senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan said that the TMC leaders needed professional medical help. “It is nothing new. Most of the TMC leaders are mad and should be kept in a mental asylum,” Mannan said.

To hammer his point, Mannan said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had recently claimed that flood in five districts of Bengal was man-made but “DVC authorities brought in proof to the contrary.” “They claim that we didn’t have enough strength to put up candidates in the panchayat polls. So how did we influence people? Was the uncontested wins rigged in that case?” he asked.

CPM leader Md Salim said that it had become a habit of the state to blame the Opposition for anything from rape to price rise. “Some unscrupulous businessmen are taking advantage by creating the artificial scarcity and they are hand in glove with those at the helm of affairs. People have lost trust in this government and in spite of the assurances, rush to stock commodities that are easily available,” he said.

The BJP too said that the government was not in a mood to run the state. “If the Opposition is spreading rumours about salt, what about potatoes and other vegetables? The government, in a way helped selling potatoes at Rs 26 a kg because the one kilo packets sold at

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