With MGNREGA, Manipur, Abhishek Banerjee signs off poll campaign

TMC national general secretary also brings Manipur on the last day of campaigning

| Updated: 07 July, 2023 2:03 am IST
TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee

KOLKATA: On the final day of campaigning for the West Bengal panchayat election, Trinamool Congress (TMC) national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee targets the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“BJP’s fight in Bengal is with the Trinamool Congress and not the people of our State. Yet, they have unjustly halted the rightful dues of the people of Bengal. If there is corruption, as they claim, why aren’t the investigative agencies nabbing the culprits? Instead, the central government has blocked funds for all the people,” the temperamental Banerjee said.

Accusing the central government of withholding ₹1.15 lakh crores due to West Bengal, Banerjee said, “Payment of the workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is a Constitutional obligation.”

“After failing to defeat Mamata Banerjee politically, the Centre has stopped the payment meant for 2.64 crore workers under 100 days work. They have not been getting money for the past two years. The Centre has collected ₹10 lakh crore as GST from Bengal since 2017,” he added.

“BJP leaders talk about fake job card holders. Yet, they go, Mum, when we say that the maximum number of fake job card holders belong to the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. All these states are governed by the BJP. Why hasn’t the central government blocked the funds for Uttar Pradesh or Gujarat?” Banerjee asked.

While the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) had expressed their distrust in the central forces, they finally had to bow to the orders of the Supreme Court before agreeing to the deployment of central forces for the panchayat election.

While opposition parties in the state cite the poll-related violence in the state in demanding more central forces in the state, Banerjee invoked the violence-hit Manipur that continued to burn despite the presence of central forces.

“The Governor (CV Ananda Bose) claims that there is blood on the hands of the State Election Commission, I wish to ask him, isn’t there blood on the hands of the central forces in Manipur?” Banerjee said.

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“In fact, the central government should immediately send the Governor to Manipur, he is a man of great understanding of democratic values, and he should see the situation in Manipur with his own eyes,” Banerjee poked.

In its recent order, the Calcutta High Court stated that the central forces, that would be deployed during the election, would stay in the state at least another day after the declaration of results in the upcoming panchayat election. The HC states that the apprehension of post-poll violence cannot be put aside.

Replying to the HC’s observation, Banerjee said, “Those who talk about post-poll violence in 2021, forget that till May 5, the state’s law and order was the responsibility of the Election Commission as the Model Code of Conduct was in force. If the EC cannot control violence, why are they blaming the State?”

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“It is for the first time in a long time that we will have central forces for the panchayat election. The Trinamool Congress has no issue with that, in fact, we are thankful to the courts for having deployed central forces,” he said.

“Remember, back in the 2021 Bengal Elections, when the central forces were there, the result of the elections was there for all to see,” Banerjee said.

Poking fun at the opposition BJP, which ruled at the centre, Banerjee said, “The BJP leaders forget that voting is done by the people and not by the CRPF jawans. If the BJP doesn’t have the support of the people, no matter how many central forces you seek, the votes won’t change.”

Talking about its Gram Banglar Motamot Referendum, where more than 60,000 booth workers of the party cast their votes to pick their favourite candidates.

Banerjee said, “People’s views have been taken into account while deciding on the party’s candidature. This is the first time in Indian history that an exercise of this magnitude has taken place. AITC has given tickets to only those candidates who got the votes.”

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