Abhishek Banerjee’s office has started sending out letters and financial assistance he had promised in Delhi on October 3, to the 3,000-odd MGNREGS job cardholders — with wages pending for two years — who had accompanied him to the national capital for the Trinamul Congress protests against frozen central funds due to Bengal.
Two days before Union home minister Amit Shah’s Esplanade rally, the letter from the Trinamul Congress national general secretary came to light.
“Friend, on October 3, I had announced that those job cardholders who went to Delhi with us, went by bus when the Centre cancelled the train, if their dues are not paid by the Centre, I will stand by them by giving them their dues,” read the letter, written in Bengali.
“Friend, this letter is in that context. I am sending you the financial assistance as promised. You and your family stay well. Stay in the fight. Stay in the movement of Ma-Mati-Manush (mother-soil-people),” it added. “This fight for rights to get what’s due will continue. We will certainly win this fight against the anti-people, anti-Bengal Centre.”
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.
A Trinamul insider said the Shah rally was coincidental, and Abhishek would have sent the letters and the assistance out around this time event if the BJP had no such thing planned.
“He hates missing declared deadlines, not fulfilling announced commitments. He had said something like this would be done by November 30, so he is keeping that promise,” said the insider.
On October 3, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew had announced a decision to compensate for the central dues to the 3,000-odd deprived MGNREGS job cardholders who were at Jantar Mantar. He said each of them has dues between Rs 8,000 and Rs 15,000, and the first appeal would be made to the state government under the “humane” chief minister. If the state is unable to shoulder the burden (of Rs 2-3.75 crore), then 70,000-odd Trinamul’s elected representatives down to the panchayat level would forego their salaries for a month each to arrange for the funds by November 30.
For the remaining deprived beneficiaries, Abhishek had apparently suggested a change at the helm of the Centre.
However, sources said a financial assistance of “Rs 5,000 or so” was being sent, for now.
Animesh Rakshit, an MGNREGS job cardholder from Jhargram’s Binpur who had gone to Jantar Mantar last month, said: “I am yet to receive any such letter from our leader, but I came to know that the letter and the cash would reach me soon. I really appreciate this fulfillment of his promise.”