Tribune News Service
Kolkata, December 25
War of words between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister over Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme intensified on Friday with Mamata Banerjee accusing the Union Government of violating the established practices and norms regarding implementation of central schemes by state governments.
Mamata’s outburst followed the charge levelled against her by Modi of sacrificing the interest of farmers at the altar of politics.
Speaking at an event on Friday in which he distributed Rs 18,000 crore to over nine crore farmers, Modi said while Mamata had expressed solidarity with the farmers protesting near Delhi against new farm laws, she had blocked the implementation of the PM-Kisan scheme in West Bengal.
Under the scheme, Rs 6,000 a year is provided to small and marginal farmers in three instalments of Rs 2,000 each through direct bank transfer into the accounts of the beneficiaries.
In response, Mamata in a statement said that Modi was trying to mislead people with half-truth and distorted facts.
“Let me set the record straight – we have always been ready to cooperate in the interest of the farmers. I personally have written two letters and have even spoken to the minister concerned two days ago but they are refusing to cooperate and are instead indulging in malicious propaganda for political gains,” said Mamata, who wants Central government to transfer the PM-Kisan funds to state government for onward distribution to farmers.
Mamata said that when West Bengal Government was implementing so many schemes in the state with Central Government, the question of not cooperating on a scheme that was benefitting farmers seemed absurd.
The Trinamool Congress chief alleged that the Central Government was indulging in politicking, disregarding the established procedure of implementation of central schemes in states.
Mamata said that for all the posturing of the Central Government, the fact was that the Modi Government had done nothing to help West Bengal.
“They are yet to release even a portion of the Rs 85,000 crore of outstanding dues that includes unpaid GST dues of Rs 8,000 crore. If he genuinely wants to help the state, he must release at least a part of these funds,” the statement quoted Mamata as saying.
The West Bengal CM went on to question the usefulness of the PM-Kisan Yojana and said even if a scheme was designed to give political mileage to Modi and not driven by any desire to help people, she would still welcome it if it meant “incremental benefit for the people of Bengal”.
Mamata’s refusal to accept various central schemes has emerged as an important issue in the run-up to the Assembly elections in the state slated to take place early next year.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who recently visited the state, also claimed that more than 80 welfare schemes meant for marginalised sections had been blocked in West Bengal by the Mamata Banerjee regime.