Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of Bengal now seems to have found another way to settle scores with the Modi government. She has embarked upon a drive to rechristen the Center’s welfare schemes with Bengali names.
For example, the Mamata Government now wants to drop “Pradhan Mantri” from the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana scheme. She has already renamed Swacha Bharat Abhiyan to Nirmal Bangla, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana as Anandadhara, Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana as Bangla Griha Prakalpa and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana as Sabar Ghare Alo which translates to lights in everyone’s home.
The reason Mamata has provided for her decision is that the state now has to bear 40% of the total cost of implementing the scheme, which some years ago was just 10%. According to her, if the state has to pay more than 40% of the cost, it is well within ts rights to change the name of the scheme.
This 60:40 cost distribution between the center and the state was recommended [pdf link] by the Niti Aayog in a notice dated 28th October 2015. The recommendation stated that for 18 Central schemes, the funding between the center and states would be shared in the aforesaid manner. Though it would continue to remain 90:10 for the 8 North-Eastern and 3 Himalayan States.
Following is the list of schemes which come under the 60:40 rule:
This recommendation was implemented in the 2016-17 budget [pdf link]
One of the other reasons for this ‘name changing’ decision was given by Mamata’s bureaucrats who contended that the names of the center’s schemes do not appear familiar to the local people because of a language barrier, so such a name change ensures more connection of the scheme with the locals.
Justifying their renaming decision, the state government cites examples such as the NDA government changed the JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) scheme to AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation). However, the cases are different as the central government was replaced in 2014, while the here only the arrangement of execution has changed.
The move is clearly aimed at reaping political benefits, rather denying political benefits to BJP. It remains to be seemed how the center or the state unit of BJP tackles this move by Mamata Banerjee.