Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today promised that welfare schemes will continue and also took aim at the BJP for its alleged attempt at history rewriting in the light of recent textbook revisions.
“If you stand by me a lot more will happen. I will not break anything. We will not take away anyone’s jobs. We will not suddenly do away with the Taj Mahal. We will not suddenly do away with the Victoria Memorial. History is history. None of us have the power to change history. That’s why India’s history is India’s treasure,” Ms Banerjee said speaking at the inauguration of the state-of-the-art indoor facility called Dhanadhanyo Auditorium in Kolkata’s Alipore.
“India’s secularism is Bengal’s treasure. If there was no Ramakrishna, this would not have happened. If there was Swami Vivekananda, this would not have happened. If there was no Rabindranath this would not have happened and if there was no Nazrul this would not have happened. And many others from Vidyasagar to Raja Ram Mohun Roy. Today we offer respects all these personalities,” Mamata Banerjee added.
The Chief Minister said what she wanted to own was the belief that she “would not be misunderstood by the people”.
“I have got all my ideas from all of you. I own nothing on my own. I just want to own one thing: may people never misunderstand me. Sometimes money permits, sometimes it doesn’t. A lot of the money due to us has been withheld. I have heard they are not going to give it to us till 2024. Let them not give it. If needed, I will beg from my mothers, but I will not go to Delhi to beg. We will manage somehow, with your blessings, well wishes and cooperation,” the Chief Minister said while referring to the ongoing battle between the union government and the state over dues from central schemes to West Bengal.
The Trinamool Congress says the BJP is taking revenge for the 2021 electoral loss by withholding funds to Bengal. The BJP says there is widespread corruption in the implementation of these schemes and that’s why funds to the state are being withheld.
The Trinamool Congress also alleged that the withholding of funds was illegal.
“MGNREGS was set up with one idea – that the poorest of the poor have at least 100 days of guaranteed employment. The guarantee was given by Government of India. The law also states that if any wage earner does not receive their wages within 15 days, they are entitled to compensation. Since December 2021, West Bengal has been denied Rs 7,500 crore in MGNREGS payments. Out of this, Rs 2,800 crores relates to only wage payments. But it has been kept in abeyance and as a result of this, 17 lakh families have been suffering for over a year,” Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra told reporters.
“In 2017, a case was filed in the Supreme Court by the Swaraj Abhiyan. There are two strong orders by the apex court that clearly state that non-payment of wages to MGNREGS workers amounts to forced labour and is in violation of Article 23 of the Constitution. This shows that what is happening in Bengal is a clear violation of Article 23 of the Constitution. Trinamool Congress will not let this go,” Mahua Moitra added.
The BJP says funds will be released as soon as accounts of expenditure are provided. State BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar told reporters, “TMC is a consortium or company that works like agents. The unfortunate thing is that the Chief Minister has taken the state’s finances to such a level that she will not be able to give anyone anything.