TMC flexes muscles in national capital with MGNREGA sit-in

NEW DELHI | Updated: 02 October, 2023 6:59 pm IST
Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was present at the silent sit-in at Rajghat to demand the delayed money from Central government for MGNREGA

NEW DELHI: TMC leaders flexed their muscle in the national capital on Gandhi Jayanti, staging a peaceful sit-in at Rajghat to protest against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre’s alleged delay in providing funds for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.

Over 3,000 people from West Bengal joined the TMC leaders at the sit-in, carrying placards that read “Bengal Deprived 1 Lakh 15 Thousand Crore Families ₹15,000 Crore Owed” and other slogans demanding the release of MGNREGA funds.

Thousands of TMC workers could not arrive in Delhi due to the cancellation of the special train they were scheduled to travel in. “Many of the job card holders could not come here because the government cancelled their trains. Many others who would have come to the sit-in could not, they are all scattered in the city,” TMC MLA Manoranjan Bapari told The New Indian.

TMC leaders at the sit-in at Rajghat (TNI Photo)

TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee accused the BJP government of not providing funds to the TMC government because it had been unable to make inroads into West Bengal. He said, “The BJP had alleged that there were instances of corruption in three districts in the state. However, they could have provided funds to the other districts, but they chose not to.”

Banerjee also alleged that the Modi government was using its financial muscle to undermine the federal structure of the country. “The BJP is trying to centralize all power and destroy the federal structure of our country,” he said.

The BJP-led government had earlier announced that it would not fund the MGNREGA scheme in West Bengal for the financial year 2023-24 over accusations of funds diversion. In 2021, the Central government had imposed Section 27 of the MGNREGA, which enables it to withhold funds to a state government.

The TMC leaders have alleged that the Union government owes over ₹15,000 crores to the state.

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Following Banerjee’s speech, the Delhi Police chased away media personnel and supporters of the sit-in from the periphery of the memorial as Section 144 was imposed. Security personnel from the CRPF and the RAF have also been deployed in the adjoining area, alongside two armoured vehicles armed with water cannons.

The sit-in has been scheduled to resume from 11 AM on Tuesday. A high-profile meeting is also scheduled to be held at Sudip Bandopadhyay’s residence in Delhi later in the day to discuss the next course of action in getting the delayed money back from the Centre.

Edited by Kushan Niyogi

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