New Delhi, August 5
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday and raised a host of issues concerning her state, including the release of GST dues and outstanding funds under various schemes.
The Prime Minister’s Office shared a picture of the meeting, which lasted about an hour.
In a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Banerjee said she had repeatedly sought his intervention for urgent release of funds due to the state on account of the implementation of the rural job scheme MGNREGA, PM Awas Yojana and the PM Gramin Sadak Yojana.
The amount due to the state under these schemes stood at about Rs 17,996.32 crore, she said.
In her memorandum, Banerjee has tabulated the total amount due to the state under different schemes and benefits. The amount that is due to the state from the central government as on July 31 has been estimated to be around Rs 1,00,968.44 crore.
Banerjee has often accused the BJP-led Central Government of delaying the payment of Goods and Services Tax (GST) dues to states, especially the ones ruled by opposition parties.
“...our state had to face critical period and to make substantial expenses for tackling the exigencies arising out of situations like COVID-19 pandemic, natural calamities like YAAS, AMPHAN, for which central funds have not been received.
“With such a large amount of Rs 1,00,968.44 crore remaining outstanding on account of core sectors, you would no doubt appreciate that it is becoming extremely difficult for the state government to run the affairs and take care of the people of the state,” she said in the memorandum.
Banerjee’s meeting with the Prime Minister came close on the heels of the Enforcement Directorate arresting now-removed West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee and his aide Arpita Mukherjee and recovering huge cash and jewellery in connection with an alleged school jobs scam.
However, it was not known if the issue featured in the meeting.
Her meeting the Prime Minister has also led to murmurs in Bengal of a possible “understanding” with the BJP over Chatterjee’s case and other investigations by central agencies.
CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty alleged that had it been a meeting for getting the dues of state, officers of various departments of the state government would also have been present with relevant documents.
“There is no reason to think that the meeting was in the interest of the state,” Chakraborty claimed.
Maintaining that Banerjee or other ministers of West Bengal do not attend official meetings called by the central government, Chakraborty alleged that they go for unofficial meetings for interests other than that of the state and its people.
BJP veteran and former governor Tathagata Roy tagged Prime Minister Modi and tweeted, “Kolkata is agog with apprehension of a ‘setting’. Which means a secret understanding between Modiji and Mamata, whereby the thieves of Trinamool and/or the murderers of BJP workers would go scot-free. Please convince us that there wud be no such ‘setting’ (sic).”
After the meeting with the Prime Minister, Banerjee met President Droupadi Murmu.
Banerjee, who arrived here on a four-day visit on Thursday, is likely to attend a Niti Aayog governing council meeting on August 7 to be chaired by Prime Minister Modi. She did not attend the meeting last year.
Banerjee’s meeting with the Prime Minister also holds importance ahead of the August 6 vice-presidential poll, from which her Trinamool Congress party has decided to abstain.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has fielded former West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar as its vice-presidential candidate while the opposition parties have nominated Margaret Alva.
Banerjee is also likely to meet key opposition leaders on Saturday, sources said.
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