news Saturday, May 09, 2015 - 05:30
They were stark rivals on the political arena, but the Trinamool Congress has been lately warming up to the BJP, especially in Parliament. The new found bonhomie wasevident as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shared a stage in Kolkata on Saturday. Lending his voice to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's lament about the lack of banking facilities in rural areas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said even she believed it is only him who can improve things. There was a visible bonhomie between the two leaders - who have been more in the news for their high-octane and often spiteful verbal duels in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls last year - as Modi launched three ambitious social security schemes, relating to the insurance and pension sector and intended at widening the process of financial inclusion. Without taking any names, Modi took a dig at the Congress after Banerjee rued the lack of banking facilities in rural areas and called for setting up a bank in all the gram panchayats of the country.  "Mamataji is saying there are no banks in villages. Well this is a result of 60 years," said Modi as the audience at the Nazrul Manch, the venue of the event, burst in laughter.  "Her pain is quite natural. I also lend my voice to that. I share her pain. But she raised the matter in my presence as she too knows that if someone can do it, then it is this person," said Modi amid loud cheers. Calling for the uplift of the poor and the downtrodden, Banerjee said there was a need to ensure social security schemes are properly implemented and the benefits reach the poor. The bonhomie between the two leaders was visible from outset as Modi after taking his seat, gestured to Banerjee to take the seat kept for her next to him. He also made the way for her to take the seat. Both leaders were seen chatting during the event. While Banerjee began her speech addressing Modi as "pradhan mantra ji", Modi during his turn used "adarniya (respected)" while addressing the Trinamool Congress supremo. Known for her strident anti-central government stand and frequent allegations that Bengal was being deprived by New Delhi, Banerjee sung a diffrent tune, stressing on the centre and the states working together on development programmes. "If the centre and state work together on development programmes, then it augurs well for India as well the states," she said during the launch programme. The Trinamool Congress supremo also stressed on enhanced co-ordination between centre and states so that social schemes and programmes can be implemented properly. Banerjee who has been vocal in protesting the central government's decision to slash allotments on social security schemes, also took the opportunity to harp upon her pet "Kanyashree" scholarship project girls and said her government had Rs.1,000 crore for the scheme. Banerjee later held a meet with Modi at the Raj Bhavan. With IANS

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