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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 April 2024

Don't need to build stadiums, trains in my name: Mamata's ‘credit-taker’ jibe at PM Modi

The Bengal chief minister, at a Vijaya Sammelani for TMC’s leaders and workers from the eight Calcutta civic wards that make up her Bhowanipore Assembly constituency, said in the evening that she did not expect or seek pity or charity, having been forged in a life of struggle

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Calcutta Published 07.11.23, 07:55 AM
Mamata Banerjee at the Vijaya Sammelani on Monday.

Mamata Banerjee at the Vijaya Sammelani on Monday. Picture by Gautam Bose

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday lashed out at the BJP-led Centre over the freezing of funds due to Bengal and attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi without naming him for apparently trying to hog credit for various initiatives, bringing up instances such as the Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing, the Narendra Modi Stadium and the Namo Bharat trains.

The Bengal chief minister, at a Vijaya Sammelani for her party’s leaders and workers from the eight Calcutta civic wards that make up her Bhowanipore Assembly constituency, said in the evening that she did not expect or seek pity or charity, having been forged in a life of struggle.

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“I am saying this (here) because it’s government-related,” said Mamata in Uttirna, the open-air theatre at Alipore.

“Just see, the 100-day work stopped. Only in Bengal, nowhere else. They owe our people Rs 7,000 crore (under MGNREGS pending wages, without adding compensatory interest),” she added, bringing up the contentious issue that the Trinamul Congress leadership is in the process of turning into a major plank for the general election next
year. “Wages for which our poor people toiled, carrying soil on their heads. Giving them their money is mandatory, according to constitutional provisions. But they did not get it, even today.”

Trinamul has said that the decision on the resumption of the party’s movement for central funds would be announced on November 23 at a Netaji Indoor Stadium meeting.

Trinamul claims Bengal has central dues amounting to over Rs 1.15 lakh crore, of which around Rs 15,000 crore is on account of the MGNREGS and the Awas Yojana alone.

“The housing scheme, shut for years in Bengal. Not (even money for) one house given by them. The scheme for rural roads shut,” she said on Monday.

“On top of all this, they will say Ghar ghar mein jal kaun deta hay? Woh neta deta hay (Who gives water in every household? That leader does),” she added.

On October 9, Abhishek Banerjee, the Trinamul national general secretary, had conditionally paused the movement for central funds, after a meeting with Bengal governor C.V. Ananda Bose, attributing the decision to advice from Mamata.

He had given the BJP-led Centre time till October 31 to respond suitably to Trinamul’s demands for the release of funds.

The movement was first announced by Abhishek and Mamata in March. Overcoming a number of obstacles and change of plans, protests took place early in October in Delhi and Calcutta, led solely by Abhishek in the absence of Mamata, because she was unwell.

“Previously, state governments used to take taxes. We thought the GST (goods and services tax), one tax, would be helpful. Now the Centre takes away everything by way of taxation,” said the chief minister.

“From that, what we are rightfully owed, is the 40 per cent they give us (for schemes), while we give 60 per cent,” she added.

In this context, the Trinamul chief repeatedly attacked the Prime Minister in her address. Sources in her party confirmed she was referring to him, although she did not take his name.

“Using the oil from the hilsa to fry the same fish…. Despite that, (he) will say
Sab hum kar raha hain (I am the one doing everything)’. Haan bhai (Yes, brother), you have accomplished everything,” she said, seemingly mimicking the way Modi speaks.

“Do something now, go ahead and touch the sky. Bring the sun down to your lap. Summon the moon,” she added, continuing to speak in Hindi, possibly to reach a wider audience beyond Bengal.

“Agar Isro bhi kuchh karta hay, toh bolta hay ki ‘Humney kiya’ (Even if the Isro accomplishes something, he says ‘I did it!’).”

In August, responding to the lunar landing by Chandrayaan-3, Mamata had mocked Modi for his alleged attempts to hog the credit.

In that same vein, on Monday, she criticised the naming of the Narendra Modi Stadium and the Namo Bharat trains, although again without directly naming the person concerned.

“I don’t get stadiums built in my name. I need no publicity. I don’t get (trains) made in my name. I do not need it...,” said Mamata.

“Even in the name of Ma-Mati-Manush (Trinamul’s slogan), I did not set up a single scheme. Remember this,” she added. “After my parents passed on, many had told me…. I had refused. Neither had they (her parents) ever desired it nor do I.”

Mamata also added that there was nothing she desired more than being able to live a truly humane life.

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