New Delhi, July 13: Mulayam Singh Yadav has walked away with Rs 45,000 crore and Nitish Kumar with two central universities from Delhi after pledging support for Pranab Mukherjee while Mamata Banerjee fumes and frets despite being a Congress ally.
The UPA government earlier this week cleared fresh allocations of Rs 45,000 crore for centrally aided development projects in Uttar Pradesh, forgoing its insistence on utilisation certificates.
Samajwadi sources termed the allocation, which covers half their Rs 93,000-crore wish list, a “surprise bounty”.
After Mulayam, who had dumped Mamata to announce support for Pranab on June 15 and is expected to go with the UPA on the vice-presidential election, it was Nitish’s turn today to get his wish.
The HRD ministry cleared two central universities for Bihar — in Gaya and Motihari — overriding its own earlier opposition. One central university had been approved but HRD minister Kapil Sibal was firmly opposed to locating it in Motihari, the state government’s choice, and had argued against it with JD(U) MPs in the Rajya Sabha.
“It has pleasantly surprised us. The coincidence (of the presidential polls) is too stark to be missed,” said a JD(U) MP at the forefront of the party’s fight with Sibal.
The JD(U) broke ranks with the BJP to support Pranab’s candidature while Mamata went against her coalition’s choice.
The allocations for Uttar Pradesh were cleared at a meeting between the Prime Minister’s principal secretary Pulok Chatterjee and state chief secretary Javed Usmani.
“It is a big relief for the new government. It seems to be a reward for our support to the Congress on the President’s election,” a Samajwadi MP said.
The Centre does not generally release fresh funds till a state provides utilisation certificates for earlier allocations.
In Calcutta, panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said: “I am not aware of the nature of financial assistance to the Uttar Pradesh government. We are not asking for any financial package. Our demand is for a moratorium on debt repayment. So far the Centre has not done anything and we will continue with our demand.”
Mamata, who has said she is “fed up” of waiting for the Centre to heed her request to grant a three-year debt moratorium, last month decided to send an all-party delegation to press the demand. As of this financial year, Bengal has to shell out Rs 25,593 crore in loan repayment.
But by insisting on a moratorium to the exclusion of other possibilities, Mamata is not giving the Centre much choice. A moratorium for Bengal will trigger demands from other states, an excuse Delhi has used to stonewall her.
Bengal could have got the assistance that Uttar Pradesh has now been given had Mamata or, before her, the Left government heeded the Centre’s advice and sought project-linked funds.
Uttar Pradesh has got funds for centrally financed projects which means it doesn't have to come up with matching contribution, a requirement that often stalls projects.
Even where Bengal has been granted funds — such as the Rs 8,750 crore announced under the Backward Regions Grant Fund last August — the state has delayed submitting detailed project reports that have to be vetted before the money is released.