Trinamul had blocked Ayushman mail before Mamata pulled out

Customised letters to beneficiaries of the Central health insurance scheme had Narendra Modi's photo (and no mention of Bengal role)

By Subhasish Chaudhuri in Chakda(Nadia)
  • Published 12.01.19, 2:01 AM
  • Updated 12.01.19, 2:01 AM
  • a min read
A beneficiary with Ayushman card (Abhi Ghosh)

Mamata Banerjee may have announced the Bengal government’s withdrawal from the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat health scheme on Thursday but the programme had run into Trinamul resistance in Nadia two months ago.

Postal department sources said local Trinamul leaders had not been allowing postmen to deliver Ayushman letters sent by the Centre.

“We informed our higher authorities about Trinamul’s resistance. But we were advised to go slow without making it a big issue,” a postmaster in Nadia said.

In Chakdah and Nabadwip, some postmen were threatened by Trinamul workers, said a source.

The letter from the Centre — Mamata had mentioned the letters in the speech address on Thursday where she announced the pullout — includes the name of family members with their date of birth and gender.

The letter bears a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and mentions the benefits of the health scheme, besides other programmes like Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana, Souvagya Yojana and Ujjwala Yojana.

The heath scheme is funded by the Centre and the state in a 60-40 ratio.

Officially, Trinamul asserted that it was against the letters as they did not acknowledge the state’s role. But party sources admitted they saw the letters as a threat to their support base.

“Some party workers had first pointed out that there is no acknowledgement of the state’s role in the letters from the Centre. So, our workers stopped the delivery of the letters,” said Haraprasad Halder, president of the Trinamul-run Chakdah panchayat samiti.

A Trinamul worker in Chakdah believed the letters bearing Modi’s photo and mention of central schemes ahead of the Lok Sabha polls could influence voters. “Our objective was to prevent the letters from reaching households,” the Trinamul worker said.

BJP leaders shrugged off Trinamul’s resistance as “nothing unusual”.

“Trinamul is scared of anything associated with the Centre. I have seen the letter. Nowhere in it does the Centre or the BJP claim any credit. Nor does it make any political statement,” said Mahadeb Sarkar, the Nadia BJP (north) president.