The Telegraph
Saturday , December 8 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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PS: Didi, add our ‘Aa’ to your ‘Aa’

New Delhi, Dec. 7: Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has written to Mamata Banerjee asking for a name change for the Bengal chapter of a central scheme, the underlying suggestion being the state was projecting the programme as its own.

The moniker the Trinamul government has chosen for its State Rural Livelihood Mission, which implements the National Rural Livelihood Mission, is “Anandadhara” (Cascade of Joy) — a clearly Bengali-sounding word that carries no echo of the parent scheme’s name.

“I would request you to name the programme Aajeevika-Aanandadhara given that the Centre is funding 75 per cent and the state contribution is only 25 per cent,” Ramesh wrote in the postscript to a letter he sent the chief minister yesterday.

The National Rural Livelihood Mission is also known as the Aajeevika programme. It is a restructured version of the erstwhile Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana, and was launched by the Centre in June last year to provide self-employment to villagers.

Ramesh had earlier angered Mamata in October, a month after Trinamul pulled out of the UPA, writing to her how the “so-called brain dead government in Delhi” was “sensitive” to Bengal’s needs.

A furious Mamata termed the comments “clearly vindictive, unethical and unconstitutional” in a Facebook post. But Ramesh claimed the chief minister had herself used the words “brain dead” to describe the Centre and “I merely used the same words in my letter”.

Ramesh wrote again to Mamata in November, saying he had been able to build a good working relationship with state rural development minister Subrata Mukherjee. It was interpreted as a dig in the context of Trinamul’s pullout.

Like yesterday’s letter, the two earlier communications too carried the punch-lines at the end.

In the main body of his letter, Ramesh expressed unhappiness at Bengal’s delay in setting up its State Rural Livelihood Mission.

The national mission aims to cover seven crore below-poverty-line households through self-help groups. It provides the self-help groups with bank funds to produce various items, as well as access to market-based institutions to sell the products.

Each state has to prepare its own implementation plan, set up a state mission and appoint a mission director-cum-CEO. While most states set up the state missions last year or early this year, Bengal did so only a couple of months ago.

“I would now request you to appoint a full-time CEO and to direct your officers to initiate recruitment of staff” for the state mission, Ramesh’s letter said. It addressed Mamata as “my dear Mamataji” and ended with “warm personal regards”.

Ramesh said his ministry would provide additional support to Bengal under the National Rural Livelihood Project, which complements the National Rural Livelihood Mission in 13 states.