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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Centre withholding funds for Bengal for not displaying PM's face on ration shops: Congress

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions to Modi ahead of his Lok Sabha poll rallies in West Bengal

PTI New Delhi Published 19.05.24, 05:25 PM
Narendra Modi and Jairam Ramesh [Inset]

Narendra Modi and Jairam Ramesh [Inset] File

The Congress alleged on Sunday that the Centre has been withholding the National Food Security Act (NFSA) funds for West Bengal for the state not displaying Narendra Modi's face on ration shops and asked the prime minister whether he prioritises his public relations over people's daily food.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions to Modi ahead of his Lok Sabha poll rallies in West Bengal.

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"Does the PM have any solutions to the Kurmi community's demands? Why has the West Bengal governor failed to resign despite multiple molestation charges? Is the outgoing PM really withholding Rs 7,000 crore of ration funds so that his face is plastered on ration shops?" Ramesh asked in a post on X.

Elaborating on what he said were "jumla (rhetoric) details", Ramesh alleged that the Modi government has shamelessly used the Kurmis for vote-bank politics, without addressing any of their demands.

"The community has long demanded ST status but the Modi Sarkar continues to drag its heels on the matter, despite the state government submitting the Cultural Research Institute report to the Centre in 2017," he said.

The upper-caste leaders in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been especially dismissive of the Kurmis' demand, Ramesh claimed.

"The BJP has also repeatedly refused to recognise the Kurmis' cultural identity, ignoring their demands to recognise their unique religious practices known as sari and sarana. Why has the BJP deceived the Kurmis and strung them along for so many years?" he asked.

Ramesh said the Congress "Nyay Patra" (poll manifesto) guarantees a nationwide caste census to ensure that every backward community in India has access to the opportunities they deserve.

"Will the outgoing PM ever stop paying lip-service to the Kurmi community's cause and meaningfully commit himself to a caste census? Will he recognise the Kurmi community's religious practices?" he asked.

Ramesh further said a few weeks after West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose was accused of molesting a Raj Bhavan staff, another woman has alleged that the governor sexually abused her in a Delhi hotel in January last year.

"This is the latest in a worrying trend of cases where political leaders affiliated to the BJP seem to think that they can violate women's bodies with impunity. It has become clear that in 'Modi ka Parivar', Nari Shakti is just a slogan that is projected while the Parivar shelters perpetrators of sexual violence, be it Prajwal Revanna or Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh or the West Bengal governor," Ramesh said.

Will women ever be safe in "Modi's India", he asked.

"Will the outgoing PM's hunger for power always be more important than the safety of India's daughters?" the Congress leader asked.

He further alleged that in an "incredibly petty move", the BJP-led Centre has been withholding the NFSA funds for West Bengal for not displaying Modi's face on ration shops.

"In an attempt to coerce the state government into displaying signboards and flexes featuring the PM's photos, the Centre has withheld Rs 7,000 crore of paddy procurement funds. This could seriously hinder the state's paddy procurement throughout this financial year," Ramesh said.

Last year, National Health Mission funds were withheld when the state government refused to paint health and wellness centres saffron, he claimed.

"Why has the outgoing PM so callously neglected the health and wellbeing of the people of West Bengal? Does he really prioritise his PR over people's daily food and medicines?" Ramesh asked and said Modi should break his "silence" on these issues.

Earlier, Ramesh claimed that the Centre's Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act "undid" the progress of the historic Forest Rights Act of 2006 and accused the BJP of diluting tribal rights.

He posed questions to Modi ahead of his rally in Jharkhand's Jamshedpur.

"Why do the people of Jamshedpur still suffer from poor connectivity? Why is it that the 2As and their tempo-loads of black money roam free, while Jharkhand's Adivasi CM was put in jail? Why is the Adityapur Industrial Area still waiting for environmental clearance? Why has the PM denied Adivasis their religious identity and refused to recognise the Sarna code?" Ramesh asked.

He said despite being an industrial hub, Jamshedpur has poor transport connectivity.

The number of trains running to key cities, such as Bhagalpur, Bengaluru and Delhi, is inadequate, he said.

The city had a functional airport until 2016 but despite being inducted into the UDAN scheme in 2018, plans for a new airport have failed to materialise, Ramesh said.

In January 2019, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Jharkhand government and the Airports Authority of India for the construction of the Dhalbhumgarh airport by December 2022, he said.

"This would have been a massive boost to the industrial sector, from major players like Tata to the MSME sector in Adityapur. When the December 2022 deadline came and went, BJP's own MPs were compelled to raise the issue in Parliament. On February 27, 2023, the Union Civil Aviation Minister responded and confirmed that the project had been abandoned," Ramesh said.

Now, after much hassle, it seems that the environmental permission for the project has been granted, he added.

Why did the Modi government neglect such essential infrastructure in Jharkhand, the Congress leader asked.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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