The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has announced it will hit the streets across the state on September 8, 14 and 20 to highlight the Centre’s “failure to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) dues” to West Bengal by “citing revenue shortfall”.
State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee told mediapersons on Wednesday that despite states citing revenue shortfall, the Centre had failed to pay the GST dues. “TMC will stage a protest across the state on September 8, 14, and 20 over the Centre’s failure to pay GST dues,” he added.
The minister said, “Bengal wants its dues. We cannot be neglected anymore. People want an end to the Centre’s anti-state policies. We will lend voice to people and launch a statewide campaign.”
Chatterjee went on to add, “Our workers will agitate against the anti-people policies in every block. Public outrage against the Centre is on the rise and we want an end to deprivation by the BJP-ruled government.”
According to sources, the TMC has hit a rough patch, with questions being raised about alleged corruption in relief work taken up after cyclone Amphan in May, and the state government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. With elections in the state due in the first half of next year — the BJP is gearing up to give it a tough competition — and several government programmes getting affected because of lockdown, the TMC is planning to win people’s confidence by deflecting their attention towards the Centre’s “failures”.
In her four-page letter to Modi, Banerjee requested him to assist her government. The CM said her administration might have to borrow to stay afloat. “I am deeply anguished by the GST imbroglio which tantamounts to a betrayal of the trust and moral responsibility of the Government of India towards the states, violating the very premise of federalism,” she added.
Despite assurances, states were being thrust with two “unilateral options, both of which require the States to borrow lakhs and crores of rupees, when many of them are unable to pay salaries to their employees”, Banerjee said.
She wrote, “Instead of helping the states, is it proper for the Centre to stop assistance to the states and thrust more financial burden on them?”
Criticising the ruling party, BJP leader Rahul Sinha said on Thursday: “The TMC is thinking that it will adopt the CPM’s old strategy of painting the Centre in bad light by accusing it of meting out a step-motherly attitude. But this will not reap any dividend to the TMC as people know what the real scenario is.”