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TMC leaders detained during dramatic nighttime protests, Mahua Moitra carried out by policewomen, cry foul as MNREGA funds blocked over corruption charges

As reported by Times Now, the TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee had demanded to meet MoS Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti at Krishi Bhavan along with a large group of over 40 TMC leaders. However, the MoS stated that she would meet only 5 leaders.

Leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) were detained on Tuesday night (3rd October) while staging protests at the Union Rural Development Ministry office in Delhi. The TMC was staging dramatic protests demanding a meeting with the Rural Development Minister over MNREGA funds to West Bengal.

As reported by Times Now, the TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee had demanded to meet MoS Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti at Krishi Bhavan along with a large group of over 40 TMC leaders. However, the MoS stated that she would meet only 5 leaders. On this, the TMC leaders got agitated and demanded to meet her with the entire group of 40+ people. TMC leaders sat on a Dharna when the MoS didn’t give in to their demands and created a ruckus. Following this, they were escorted out by security personnel stationed at the premises of Krishi Bhavan.

As per the latest reports, MoS Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has stated that she did want to meet the TMC leaders, but they chose to waste her time by staging Dharna and not agreeing to sending a delegation of fewer people instead of all 40+ of them.

TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee alleged that the TMC MPs were manhandled by the Delhi Police. He termed the detention of TMC leaders as a “black day for Indian democracy”. Furthermore, the TMC leader called for a campaign “Raj Bhavan Abhiyan” in Kolkata on 5th October.

MP Mahua Moitra posted a video of herself being carried by women security personnel while she thrashes around and shrieks.

The matter pertains to the blocking of MNREGA funds by the Centre to West Bengal. Abhishek Banerjee claimed that Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti did not meet them even after giving an appointment. The detained TMC delegation was released after three hours.

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee accused the Central government of “withholding funds for the poor of Bengal” and of brutality against its delegation.

On October 2, TMC leaders had tried to stage a Dharna at Raj Ghat as a part of their strategy to blame the Centre for withholding funds in the face of rampant corruption in Bengal. As a response to the claims of manhandling made by TMC, the Delhi Police had stated that the TMC leaders had refused to vacate the place despite repeated requests.

In a statement, the Delhi police said that the TMC leaders were requested to vacate the Samadhi Sthal peacefully. “On this very important day of the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, thousands of people were visiting Rajghat – the Samadhi Sthal – to pay homage,” it noted.

“TMC leaders were requested not to sit at Samadhi Sthal. Despite repeated requests, they were not listening. Due to that public entry was affected and that resulted in a gathering of people around Samadhi Sthal. Therefore, to avoid public inconvenience as well as in the interest of their own safety, TMC leaders were requested to vacate the samadhi Sthal peacefully,” the statement read.

Marred with allegations of large-scale corruption linked to MNREGA funds, Mamata targeted the BJP for “abandonment of democratic values”. On 6th September, the Bengal government had written to the Delhi police seeking to hold a protest rally in the national capital against the Centre’s decision to hold back MNREGA funds.

Meanwhile, the BJP has alleged that TMC did not turn up for the meeting with the Minister at the scheduled time. BJP leader Amit Malviya wrote on X, “the Central Govt is not holding back any funds. It is because of widespread corruption in the implementation of MNREGA and lack of compliance with guidelines, that the funds have been held up. Despite several reminders, since 2019, Govt of West Bengal failed to submit a satisfactory compliance or Action Taken Report. No steps have been taken to eliminate corruption and ensure transparency.”

Why has the Centre withheld MGNREGS funds from West Bengal?

In March this year, the Union Rural Development Ministry decided to withhold Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) funds for West Bengal for the fiscal year 2023-24.

The Ministry extended the imposition of Section 27 of MNREGA, which allows for the suspension of funds for violations of rules in the implementation of the scheme by the state. West Bengal is the only State in the country against whom this Section 27 of the MNREGA was invoked.

The MNREGA funds to West Bengal were halted owing to large-scale anomalies in the implementation of the Central welfare schemes by Trinamool Congress (TMC) functionaries, especially in the rural areas.

A large number of TMC officials in rural areas of Bengal have been accused of placing ineligible people including family members on PMAY beneficiary lists.

The list of PMAY beneficiaries in Bengal was discovered to be filled with wealthy individuals with ties to the ruling party, as well as children, wives, and close relatives of Trinamool functionaries.

Similarly, Trinamool employees in rural organizations have been accused of distorting MGNREGA beneficiary lists, generating bogus job cards, and misrepresenting records of assets produced under the scheme in order to siphon off funds, among other violations. The union administration suspended fund disbursement after central audit teams discovered these large-scale errors and malfeasance.

In 2022, BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari had written to Union Rural Development Minister Griraj Singh seeking an investigation against Mamata Banerjee administration in West Bengal.

Asking for a CBI probe or a probe by any central agency, the BJP leader alleged that the WB Govt was creating ‘fake’ jobs and misusing the job holder details to create false employment data.

Alleging that the details of the Job Card holders are being used arbitrarily and at whim by the Mamata Banerjee administration, the BJP leader listed the charges which he said would emerge if an audit is conducted.

  • The Jobs/Works against such “so-called employment” that have been generated are mostly fake. The Administration won’t be able to provide the Work Orders or Tender Details of the Jobs/Works to tally such employment.
  • The mode of payment to the labourers is questionable & lacks clarity. An inquiry must be done whether the payment has been made in cash. If so, then who made such payment & for which job? Whether the person/agency making such payment has been actually assigned to execute such a job. And if the payment has been made through account transfer, in that scenario the Administration must come clean regarding the money trail.
  • A large number of Job Card holders’ details seem to be fake. The figures for the Job Card holders are hugely exaggerated. If compared to the 2011 Census it would be found that the job cards issued in a Block seem to outnumber the people residing in that area.

Moreover, in 2019, Mamata Banerjee herself had inadvertently admitted that ‘cut money’ was taken by members of her own party, for implementing the welfare schemes of the government.

Mamata Banerjee’s MNREGA lie

In 2013, two years into office, Mamata Banerjee made big claims of development, especially about providing 100 days of work to unemployed adults under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Her government claimed that the state topped the chart in 2012-13 with the implementation of projects worth Rs 4475.80 crore, which is the highest in the country and generated employment for 57.76 lakh families.

TMC government’s ad in a local newspaper made tall claims of topping the development scale. This also turned out to be nothing but a deception. The national statistics then suggested that West Bengal ranked 24th on the list.

The then Union Minister of State for Urban Development Deepa Dasmunsi had said in a statement: “The state has ranked 24th on the list, whereas the (Trinamool) government very boastfully claimed otherwise. It easily nailed the lie of the state administration as they are misleading people with wrong information ahead of the panchayat elections”.

The national statistics also suggested that West Bengal dipped to the 35th position in the list in the year 2019.

West Bengal also always has the highest percentage of delayed MGNREGA payments and it is plagued by TMC’s cut-money across the state, where workers are forced to pay hefty sums to avail work under the scheme.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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