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Suvendu seeks probe into ‘irregularities, diversion of central funds’ by state govt

The BJP leader in a tweet alleged that the state government had “tactfully” opened the State Nodal Account of Public Finance Management System in a private bank where the State Emergency Relief Fund Account was in operation so that Central funds could be “easily diverted”.

Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. (File)

Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Suvendu Adhikari has demanded a Union Finance Ministry probe into alleged irregularities and “unethical and illegal” diversion of the central government funds by the state government.

In a letter dated September 29 to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the BJP leader alleged that the state government was illegally diverting the funds from the Wage and Means Head of the consolidated funds and Public Finance Management System (PFMS) to the State Emergency Relief Fund (SERF).

The BJP leader in a tweet alleged that the state government had “tactfully” opened the State Nodal Account of Public Finance Management System in a private bank where the State Emergency Relief Fund Account was in operation so that Central funds could be “easily diverted”.

“It is a can of worms waiting to be opened,” he wrote on the micro-blogging site on Thursday.

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“I am writing this letter to apprise you about the malpractices the West Bengal Government has been engaging in regarding the unethical and illegal diversion of funds provided by the Central Government,” wrote Adhikari. “PFMS was introduced only a few months ago. Before PFMS was in operation (before PFMS came into being), all Central Government funds were remitted to the Wage and Means head of the consolidated fund. The transactions of that particular head have to be thoroughly enquired into. The enquiry must be conducted through officers, who are not likely to be influenced by the state government officials,” demanded the BJP leader.

Adhikari, who had defeated Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram in the Assembly polls last year by a margin of 1,956 votes, has been accusing the state government of renaming several Centre’s schemes and passing them as the state’s own. On a number of occasions, he also accused the state government of misusing the Centre’s funds.

The BJP Nandigram MLA further wrote, “The state government has been engaging in the following illegal steps: 1. Firstly, withdrawing a major portion of the amount, and depositing it in the SREF account and spending the money along with the accrued interest in other works, which was not meant to be….. 2. When sub-allocating to the departments, they are making too much delay, sometimes even by six months after the amount was originally remitted by the central government. As a result, the whole accounting of scheme gets jeopardised and subsequently, the utilisation certificate cannot be generated on time.”

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“If transactions of these accounts are thoroughly scrutinised, evidence of illegalities will be found. Remarkably, it seems that no officer of the Finance Department seems to be aware of this modus operandi. So, it is my earnest request to you to kindly consider these grave charges with seriousness and kindly take appropriate steps so that the malpractices come to an end and no one can malign the Central Government unnecessarily,” he added.

Adhikari later tweeted, “one tweet of mine and West Bengal government is out of line. A scared WB government, wary of covering their tracks, is desperate to destroy evidence.” Quoting a state finance department circular that the e-office server will be down for six days, he said it is nothing but an “excuse to wipe off evidence”.

“In the guise of this downtime, West Bengal Finance Department officers would try to delete all sensitive files and notings. GOI must depute a senior level officer to keep an eye on their illegal activities, so that this corrupt WB government is caught red-handed,” he said.

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Reacting to Adhikari’s letter, TMC Lok Sabha MP Sougata Roy said, “Someone wrote this letter for him, and he sent it to Nirmala Sitharaman. I have seen Adhikari in the Lok Sabha and in the state Assembly. He does not know about financial matters and their norms and rules. He has been making all these allegations but has failed to produce evidence to back his allegations. The Centre is free to conduct a probe. The state government acts as per norms and rules.”

TMC spokesperson and senior Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said “Suvendu Adhikari is peddling lies and falsehood for narrow political gains. His allegations are concocted and meant to malign the state in every possible way.

“The state is not diverting central funds for other purposes. Instead, West Bengal is yet to get thousands of crores of its dues from the Centre and is facing great difficulty to implement some projects.”

— With PTI INputs

First published on: 30-09-2022 at 12:46:31 pm
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