The BJP on Monday slammed the Trinamool Congress' protest here seeking the release of central funds under some schemes to West Bengal as a "circus" and "drama", and accused the state government of "theft" of money and not taking corrective measures despite numerous reminders.
As TMC MPs, including Abhishek Banerjee, led the protest here, Union Rural Development Minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh listed the Centre's concerns with the state's implementation of work under the MGNREGA and the PM Awas Yojana and accused the government led by Mamata Banerjee of not taking action against irregularities.
"Isn't it true that the Rural Development Ministry has reminded the West Bengal government time and again of corruption and irregularities but it could never provide a satisfactory response? Isn't it true that the state has always failed in acting against corrupt officials and ministers," Singh asked.
The BJP also fielded its state leaders, including unit president Sukanta Majumdar, Union minister Subhas Sarkar and MP Locket Chatterjee, to target the TMC at a press conference and defend the Centre.
Majumdar made light of Abhishek Banerjee's charge that the BJP has been trying to scuttle his party's protests in the national capital and his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said Modi was not that idle to target a "petty leader" such as the TMC's heir apparent.
Since Abhishek Banerjee has grown up in a political culture of violence and intimidation pushed first by the Left and now the TMC, he believes this is what is prevalent in the entire country, Majumdar claimed.
The central government has stopped the payments under the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) because funds were earlier diverted to works not permissible by the Act, the BJP leader said, claiming that political considerations influenced its implementation in the state.
A central probe found irregularities and asked the state government to recover the money, Majumdar said, alleging that money was credited into bank accounts created under falsified lists.
The central government wrote to the state for compliance numerous times but its action-taken report had no mention of action taken against violations on nearly 15 points as highlighted by the probe team, he alleged.
What Abhishek Banerjee is doing here is nothing but drama, Majumdar said. Locket Chatterjee said the TMC was doing a circus in Delhi while its government in West Bengal was engaged in corruption.
Majumdar said the state government has acknowledged the violation of rules and has even made recovery in some cases but is not acting against the guilty. "They are saying theft has happened but they refuse to catch the thieves," he added.
Sarkar said the Centre has invoked appropriate laws to stop the payment due to the lack of transparency and the absence of action against violations.
Even under the central government's housing scheme for the poor, those with political links got the money despite having multi-storey homes while the needy were denied the benefits, he alleged.
The BJP leader asserted that the Modi government has spent much more money than the previous UPA government in West Bengal under these schemes.
The Rural Development Ministry spent over Rs 2 lakh crore in over nine years under the Modi government while the expenditure was only Rs 58,000 crore under the UPA's 10 years.
Under the housing scheme, the Modi government gave Rs 30,000 crore to West Bengal against the UPA's Rs 4,000 crore. The Centre's expenditure was Rs 54,000 crore and Rs 14,000 crore for the two governments respectively under the MGNREGA, they added.
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