Mamata under attack for asking people to smoke more

Kolkata, April 25 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday came in for sharp criticism from within her party and the opposition after she suggested people to “smoke more” to provide compensation to victims of a chit fund scam.

“Smoking is bad.. let there be tax on it. But am I responsible for what Sudipta Sen did? Why should I pay more tax on every cigarette I smoke? I haven’t fleeced the people, I haven’t fleeced their money,” rebel Trinamool Congress parliamentarian Kabir Suman said.

The singer-turned-politician said the 10 percent additional tax on cigarettes announced by the Banerjee government Wednesday was not a “valid political argument”.

Banerjee Wednesday announced the constitution of Rs.500 crore relief fund for compensating depositors who have lost money by investing in chit funds run by the Saradha Group.

After declaring the 10 percent additional tax on cigarettes, Banerjee with a smile had said: “Smoke a little more to help the investors”.

Congress MP and spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury described Banerjee’s suggestion as “alarming and destructive”.

“When the world has been campaigning against the fatal effects of smoking, the chief minister comes out asking people to smoke more. It is alarming, it is destructive,” said Chowdhury.

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