PM Narendra Modi and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo Credit: File Image)
Taking a swipe at the Mamata Banerjee Government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday alleged it was not implementing central schemes as they do not help “syndicates” or involve “cut money”. Addressing the 150th anniversary programme of Kolkata Port Trust, which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee skipped, Modi said people in West Bengal would not have to miss out on the benefits for long, an apparent reference to the Assembly polls next year.
“When there is no syndicate or cut money involved, why would someone implement central government schemes? I don’t know whether they (state government) would give approval for central schemes such as Ayushman Bharat Yojana, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, but if they do, people of Bengal will be able to enjoy their benefits,” he said.
The prime minister said that he was pained to see that the poor in the state were not getting benefits of the Centre’s welfare schemes. “Eight crore farmers across the country are getting benefited (due to the central schemes). But there will always be pain in my heart (about the schemes not being implemented in Bengal).
“I will always pray to god for the welfare of farmers and poor patients. May God give them (Bengal government) good sense.... However, I have a feeling that the people of West Bengal will not remain deprived of central schemes for long,” he said.
During the 2019 general elections, Modi had consistently attacked Banerjee, accusing her of running a “syndicate raj” in the state. The BJP tally rose from two to 18 in West Bengal which has 42 Lok Sabha seats, while the ruling Trinamool Congress won 22 seats, down from 34 in 2014.
The prime minister on Sunday also rechristened Kolkata Port Trust after Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee. The chief minister, who was scheduled to attend the port trust programme, was conspicuous by her absence. None of the Trinamool Congress ministers were also present at the event.
Banerjee, one of the most bitter critics of the prime minister, met him at Raj Bhavan on Saturday, after deciding not to receive him at the airport, and was seated with him later at an event at Millennium Park. Modi had arrived here amid protests by students and other groups against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population register exercise.
“I told him that we are against CAA, NRC and NPR. I told him there should be no discrimination among masses and no citizens are left out and tortured,” the chief minister had told reporters after meeting Modi at Raj Bhavan.
Moments later, she was present at an anti-CAA protest nearby. Banerjee, who called her meeting with Modi a “courtesy visit”, said the prime minister had asked her to come to New Delhi to discuss the vexatious issues.
Banerjee, however, skipped the inauguration of renovated heritage Currency Building, founded in 1833, by the prime minister. On Sunday, Modi said his government at the Centre was making every possible effort to develop Bengal especially its poor, underprivileged and exploited sections. He also inaugurated and laid foundation of infrastructure projects for the expansion and modernisation of the Kolkata Port.