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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Abhishek Banerjee suggests plan to clear job dues of 2,500 MGNREGS cardholders who joined Trinamul Congress’s Delhi protest

Even though Trinamul national general secretary announced such plan, senior officials at Nabanna said there was no provision for state to clear dues under central scheme

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 04.10.23, 05:34 AM
Trinamul supporters and job cardholders gathered at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday

Trinamul supporters and job cardholders gathered at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday PTI picture

Abhishek Banerjee on Tuesday suggested that the Bengal government would be requested to pay 2,500 MGNREGS cardholders who took part in the Trinamul Congress’s protest programmes in Delhi the pending wages but senior officials at Nabanna said there was no provision for the state to clear the dues under the central scheme.

“As a gesture of appreciation, the 2,500 job cardholders who came here with us, for them we would request our humane chief minister. Within November 30, the state government, if possible, would clear what is owed to them by the Centre,” the Trinamul national general secretary said at the agitation in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.

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“If the state government is unable to do so, 70,000 elected representatives — down to the panchayat level — of Trinamul will sacrifice a month’s pay each to clear the amount that is due to them from the Centre,” added Abhishek.

Soon after Abhishek made the announcement, senior Bengal government officials said there was no provision for the state to pay the dues of the MGNREGA wages as it was fully sponsored by the Centre.

“There is no head under which the state can clear the dues. So, clearing the dues from the salaries of elected representatives is a viable option as this is completely a political initiative,” said a senior bureaucrat.

According to sources, each job cardholders in Bengal has an average due of Rs 10,000 since they worked for MGNREGS projects between December 2021 and March 2022. The Centre has not cleared the MGNREGS dues, alleging financial irregularities in the implementation.

“The job cardholders have dues between Rs 8,000 and Rs 15,000 each. If a job cardholder has a due of Rs 10,000 on average, the party has to raise a sum of Rs 2.5 crore. It is very much possible to arrange the fund with one month’s salary of the elected representatives,” said a bureaucrat.

Trinamul has 35 MPs, including 22 Lok Sabha members. As each MP draws a salary of Rs 1 lakh (besides various allowances that take their monthly salary to more than Rs 2.5 lakh), Trinamul can arrange a sum of Rs 35 lakh from the salary of the MPs.

Similarly, Trinamul has 214 MLAs and each of them gets a salary of Rs 50,000 a month (besides various allowances).

“So, Trinamul can put together a sum of Rs 1.07 crore from the salary of MLAs. If a month’s salary of the MPs and the MLAs are put together, a sum of Rs 1.42 crore could be accumulated. The remaining Rs 1.08 crore could be generated from the party’s elected representatives at local bodies,” said a Trinamul leader.

The party has nearly 60,000 elected panchayat representatives. They get monthly salaries between Rs 3,000 and Rs 10,500.

“If each of the members gives Rs 2,500 a month from their salaries, a sum of Rs 15 crore could be generated. But as a sum of Rs 1.08 crore extra needs to be generated, elected members who depend on their monthly salaries to run their families could be spared. Only those who can afford to spare the salaries might be asked to make the contribution,” said another leader.

In Delhi, Abhishek said Trinamul would fight to ensure that the remaining 20 lakh job cardholders also got their dues.

Sources in Trinamul said Abhishek sent a clear signal to all the job cardholders that if they stood by Trinamul in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, they could get their dues cleared.

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