Criticising the TMC dispensation in West Bengal for allegedly opposing pro-people policies of the Centre, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said the state could not be made a beneficiary of the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan, as it had not provided any data on migrant labourers.
Addressing a virtual rally for the people of Bengal, the Union finance minister also slammed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for “her reluctance to allow Shramik Special train services in the state”.
“The West Bengal government has been opposing all pro-people policies of the Centre…Six states have shared data on migrant workers, following their return. West Bengal, however, did not… “Our prime minister launched a scheme, which covers 116 districts in the country, but none from Bengal could be included as the TMC government didnt bother to share any data with us. The ruling dispensation in Bengal doesnt want any of the Centres welfare policies to be implemented,” she said.
Senior TMC leaders had recently criticised the Union government for not making the state a beneficiary in the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan, a job scheme for migrant labourers. Sitharaman, however, appreciated the chief minister for her support to the central government on the issue of the Sino-India border standoff. “I would credit her for one thing; at least on the Sino-India border issue, she (Mamata Banerjee) stood by the Centre,” Sitharaman said.
Terming the TMC government as “anti-people”, Sitharaman said the state was informed about cyclone Amphan, 11 days in advance, but it failed to take adequate precaution. Several lives could have been saved, if timely measures were taken, she said. On West Bengals alleged unwillingness to bring back migrant labourers, Sitharaman said it was the only state that was not keen on taking back its workers.
“The migrant labourers would never forget the treatment you (Mamata Banerjee) have meted out to them. She (Mamata) had said that these special migrant trains were bringing more coronavirus cases to the state. It was a heartless statement,” the Union minister said.
The issue of bringing migrant workers back to West Bengal has snowballed into a major political row over the past several weeks with the BJP and the Centre alleging that the state government is not keen to take them back, a claim rebuffed by the TMC dispensation. Criticising the state government over the “mishandling” of COVID-19 crisis in the state, Sitharaman also said that the inter-ministerial central team that visited the state for assessment of the situation had to face several roadblocks.
Indicating that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be a major electoral plank in the assembly polls, Sitharaman demanded that Banerjee explain the reasons for opposing the legislation. “This law was brought in to help the refugees, what is the harm in it? Mamata didi needs to come clean on why she is opposing the CAA, whats wrong in granting citizenship to refugees,” she stated.
Terming the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in the state a “complete failure”, Sitharaman said the people of West Bengal should give the BJP a chance to take the state to new heights.