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‘Blatant lies’: Mamata writes to PM after Nadda says Bengal didn’t give account of MGNREGA funds

A Trinamool delegation also met Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh Thursday over ‘non-release’ of MGNREGA funds worth Rs 7,130 crore to West Bengal.

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New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi rebutted BJP president J.P. Nadda’s allegation that her government hadn’t submitted details of how central funds were spent in the state over the past three years. 

Mamata wrote that her government had submitted all the paperwork to account for expenditure of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme funds, while calling Nadda’s claims a “blatant lie to gain political mileage”. 

A Trinamool delegation met Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh Thursday over “non-release” of MGNREGA funds worth Rs 7,130 crore to the state. 

Nadda had made the claim against the West Bengal government while addressing a convention in Kolkata last Thursday. 

“I am really anguished by the statement made in Kolkata by Shri J.P. Nadda…that the funds have not been released to the state government on account of non-submission of utilisation certificate for the funds received under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA in the last three years. This is nothing but a blatant lie intended to gain political mileage at the cost of lakhs and lakhs of rural poor in the state who are passing through most distressing times due to non-payment of wages for their works,” wrote Mamata in her 9 June letter. 

“I would like to inform that all utilisation certificates and accounts have been duly submitted by the state government for funds received under the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and there is no statutory compliance pending by the state government that should warrant stoppage of funds,” she further wrote. 

In an earlier letter to the PM, dated 12 May, the Trinamool Congress president had claimed that wages under the MGNREGA programme — a central scheme that guarantees 100 days of paid work to the rural poor — have been pending for four months because the Centre has not released funds for IT.


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‘Deficiencies in compliance’, TMC delegation told

The Trinamool delegation of 10 MPs that met Giriraj Singh Thursday was led by Sudip Bandyopadhyay, leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, and Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, the party’s leader in the Rajya Sabha. 

According to Bandyopadhyay, the delegation was told about “deficiencies” in compliance with NREGA guidelines causing stoppage of funds. 

“We have submitted a memorandum and told them that to deprive lakhs of rural poor of money that is rightfully theirs is not acceptable. The Centre cannot legally stop this money. The CM wrote two letters to the PM to which we have not received a reply,” Bandyopadhyay told mediapersons.

“We were told that a reply would come in the next 48 hours and there would also be a meeting between central and state officers on the matter. We have registered a very strong protest,” he added. 

The delegation requested the Centre to release at least 50 per cent of the money immediately to assuage the hardships of poor people.

Even as many parts of the country erupted with protests over the Centre’s newly-launched Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitment in the armed forces, Bandopadhyay, who is a member of the consultative committee for the Ministry of Defence, declined to comment on it. 

“Both me and Saugata da (TMC MP Saugata Roy) are members of the committee and if required we will ask Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who heads the committee, to call a full meeting to discuss the issue,” he said.

TMC delegation raises Tripura violence with EC

Meanwhile, a separate Trinamool delegation went to the Election Commission Thursday to raise the issue of violence in Tripura ahead of byelections to four assembly seats. 

The bypolls are scheduled to take place in Agartala, Bardowali, Surma and Jubarajnagar on 23 June. 

In its memorandum addressed to the election commissioners, the TMC wrote: “On 15.06.2022, over 70 families joined the AITC [All India Trinamool Congress] in Surma, Tripura, but immediately thereafter goons of the BJP surrounded these families and unleashed a brutal attack on them using sharp weapons.” 

The memorandum claimed that “even women and children were not spared from this naked violence by the BJP”, while citing annexed videos. 

“Moreover, the Tripura state administration and police prevented leaders of the AITC from reaching the spot of the incident and assisting the families,” it further said.

Lok Sabha MP Saugata Roy, who led the delegation, told mediapersons that Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar had assured them that all steps would be taken to prevent violence. 

“He said all booths will be under CCTV surveillance and adequate central forces will be deployed. He assured us that he is personally against violence and will ensure it does not take place,” he added.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)


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