Trinamool’s Narrative On Modi Govt Holding Back Funds To Bengal Is Gaining Traction

Trinamool’s Narrative On Modi Govt Holding Back Funds To Bengal Is Gaining Traction

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Friday, April 28, 2023 02:57 PM IST
Trinamool’s Narrative On Modi Govt Holding Back Funds To Bengal Is Gaining TractionBJP leader Suvendu Adhikari and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.
  • The Union Government needs to get aggressive and release a comprehensive white paper detailing the malpractices in execution of various centrally-sponsored schemes in Bengal. 

The Trinamool Congress has, over the past few months, mounted a widespread campaign against the Union Government accusing the latter of denying Bengal its due share of funds for centrally-sponsored schemes and projects. 

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has been at the forefront of this campaign. Her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who is now on a statewide tour to drum up support for the party ahead of the panchayat polls, has been accusing the BJP-led government at the federal level of “taking revenge” on the people of Bengal by denying funds to the state. 

Abhishek Banerjee has been telling people in the rural areas that having failed to muster support of the people of the state in the 2021 Assembly polls, a “revengeful” BJP has been punishing Bengal. 

Mamata Banerjee had, last month, sat on a two-day dharna (read this) to register her protest against the alleged ‘deprivation of Bengal’ by the Union Government. According to Abhishek Banerjee, the Union Government has withheld Rs 1.15 lakh crore for as many as 106 schemes partially or wholly funded by the Centre since 2021-2022. 

This non-disbursal of funds has brought work on many schemes and projects, especially in the rural areas of Bengal, to a complete halt. 

For instance, people have not been getting work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and new houses have not been constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana for the poor. 

Construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has stopped and many other schemes for the rural poor that are wholly or partially funded by the Centre have ground to a halt. 

This has generated a lot of anger among the rural masses. The Trinamool leadership fears that this anger will result in setbacks for the party in the forthcoming rural polls. 

That is why Mamata Banerjee and her nephew have launched a high-decibel campaign against the BJP and the Union Government accusing the latter of denying Bengal its due share of funds. 

Need to counter this campaign:

But this campaign needs to be countered, and immediately. 

According to feedback being received from the rural areas, the Trinamool’s campaign has struck a chord and many have started believing that the Centre is withholding funds because the BJP could not win the last Assembly elections and form the government in the state. 

In reality though, the Union Government has stopped disbursing funds because of largescale leakage of funds meant for such schemes and also because the state government has failed to submit the mandatory paperwork. 

For instance, an estimated one crore fake job cards were created by Trinamool functionaries of gram panchayats and panchayat samitis as well as field officers of the state government and hundreds of crores of Rupees pocketed by them. 

This scam came to light only when the Union Government insisted on linking the job cards with the Aadhar cards of beneficiaries. While the state government has claimed that it has cancelled these fake job cards, the Union Government wants the state to prosecute the fraudsters and recover the stolen funds from them. 

The Trinamool government is unwilling to do that since it would adversely affect a huge number of party functionaries and anger them. 

Huge sums of central funds meant for PMAY were also allegedly misappropriated by Trinamool functionaries. They cornered the benefits meant for poor and homeless people. Even after their wrongdoings came to light, they were not prosecuted. 

Audits have revealed large scale defalcation of funds meant for constructing rural roads under PMGSY and even the PM-POSHAN (mid-day meals for school children) schemes. 

The state government has also failed to submit the mandatory utilisation certificates (UCs) for many other centrally-funded schemes and projects, leading to the Union Government withholding the next tranche of funds for those schemes. 

The Union Government wants the Bengal government to put in place robust mechanisms to stop further loot of funds disbursed by it for centrally-sponsored schemes. And it (New Delhi) wants the Mamata Banerjee government to file FIRs and prosecute those who have looted central funds. 

Till that happens, the Union Government will not disburse funds for the many schemes and projects it funds in states to Bengal. 

How to counter the fake campaign:

The Union Government needs to get aggressive and release a comprehensive white paper detailing the malpractices in execution of various centrally-sponsored schemes in Bengal. 

This white paper should also name the people who have looted central funds and indulged in other malpractices.  

BJP leaders and functionaries in Bengal should fan out to all corners of the state with this white paper and mount an aggressive counter-campaign to expose the Trinamool. 

People of Bengal, especially the suffering rural masses, need to be told the truth. They should be made aware of why New Delhi is not disbursing funds for welfare and infrastructure schemes and projects. 

The masses have to be made aware that it is the Trinamool which is to be blamed for their sufferings. 

People in the rural areas of Bengal have first-hand knowledge of loot of public funds and other malpractices by Trinamool functionaries at various levels. They are well aware of the Trinamool leaders’ involvement in various scams in Bengal,

As such, they won’t need much convincing. Only the bare and unvarnished truth has to be laid before them. 

But for this counter-campaign to succeed, BJP’s Bengal leaders and functionaries have to hit the ground. They have to start door-to-door campaigns, address street corner meetings, take out rallies in villages and carry out a 360-degree attack on the Trinamool for its corruption. 

Unfortunately, with the exception of a very few like Suvendu Adhikary, a majority of BJP leaders prefer to issue media statements and stay in the comforts of their homes and party offices rather than sweat it out in the field. 

The central BJP leadership has to issue stern warnings to these state BJP leaders and set non-negotiable targets for them. 

Abhishek Banerjee is set to criss-cross the state and travel 3,500 kilometres to address 250 rallies over the next two months. No BJP leader in Bengal has any plan to match that. 

The BJP should have chalked out a programme by now to tail Abhishek Banerjee and visit the areas that he goes to with a counter-campaign to demolish his falsehoods about the deprivation of Bengal by the Union Government. 

That is, unfortunately for the BJP, not happening. If the Trinamool’s fake campaign finds takers among the people of Bengal, the BJP will have only itself to blame for that. 

Also read: 

--Why Mamata Banerjee’s dharna against Centre is unjustifiable

--West Bengal: Here’s decoding the DNA of endemic corruption in Trinamool ranks that Mamata Banerjee cannot eradicate

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