Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday accused the Centre of using central agencies to bulldoze India’s federal structure, and questioned the BJP-led government about the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund.
“You are raising questions about the Rs 25,000 relief we have given to those affected during Cyclone Amphan, but what about the lakhs and crores of money donated to PM-CARES Fund? Where has the money gone? Does anyone know about the future of this fund? Why was no audit done? The Centre is lecturing us. What have they given us to combat the Covid pandemic? You want to accuse me because I am poor,” Banerjee said at a press conference in state secretariat Nabanna following a state Cabinet meeting.
The chief minister said the Centre did not help the state in any way during the pandemic. “What has the PMO [Prime Minister’s Office] given us to combat Covid-19? Some ventilators and Rs 191 crore. We have spent close to Rs 5,000 crore. The PM came after Amphan and assured help. But we were given only Rs 1,000 crore as an advance from the funds the state is entitled to. Those who can’t help, should not come to lecture us. They will use agencies to malign the government. Remember one who can feed is the mother. Bengal will not accept the humiliation,” she added.
Defending herself against corruption allegations in Amphan relief distribution, Banerjee said that in the interest of common people she had not taken her pension from Parliament for several years and had also refused to accept the salary a chief minister is entitled to from the state assembly.
The chief minister accused the Centre of targeting West Bengal ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, and claimed that the law-and-order situation here was better than many other states. “The Centre is using agencies to bulldoze and threaten us. We are not afraid of them. They [BJP] are not a political party but garbage of lies,” she added.
A day after Modi said some states were not allowing the benefits of central schemes to reach farmers, Banerjee said West Bengal’s “Krishak Bandhu” initiative was far better than the Modi government’s scheme. She also claimed that the Centre was not consulting states before shaping its schemes.
“We have a separate scheme for farmers, why should we listen to them? ‘Krishak Bandhu’ is a far better scheme. We do not discriminate between farmers. Does the Centre think we are bonded labourers?” Banerjee said.