Millennium Post

TMC hits out at PM Modi for not including Bengal in job scheme for migrant workers

Kolkata: Iterating that the Centre was apathetic to plight of the poor in West Bengal, the ruling TMC on Monday sought an explanation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not including the state in Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan', a job scheme for migrant labourers.

The BJP leaders, however, reasoned that the state was excluded as the TMC government, in the past, had opted out of two major central schemes -- PM Kissan Samman Nidhi and Ayushman Bharat.

Senior TMC leader and nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Abhishek Banerjee, alleged the Modi government has ignored Bengal, which is now home to 11 lakh migrant workers.

"Shri @narendramodi Ji, why have you blatantly ignored the concerns of 11 Lakh migrant workers from #Bengal who've recently returned to their homes. Why has WB been left out of the Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyan? Why this apathy towards the people of Bengal?" he tweeted.

The prime minister had on Saturday launched the employment scheme with an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore for migrant workers who returned to home states amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

The Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan will be implemented on a mission mode over 125 days in 116 districts of six states -- Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha --which have received the maximum number of migrant workers.

Echoing Abhishek Banerjee, TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said the decision to keep West Bengal out of the scheme shows that the BJP is not bothered about the state's development".

"The BJP is only interested in winning votes. They are not bothered about the development of people in general, which is why they kept Bengal out of this scheme. For the last few weeks, they were shedding crocodile tears for the migrants here, now they stand exposed," he said.

Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had recently written to the PM, requesting him to include West Bengal under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan, as the state sends a large chunk of labourers to others parts of the country for work.

"I was shocked to find that Bengal has not been made a beneficiary in this scheme. This does not seem right. The migrant workers from Bengal should not be deprived," he said.

The state BJP leadership, however, pinned the blame on the TMC dispensation and its decisions in the past for the Centre's move.

"There have been instances where the state government has not allowed the implementation of various central welfare schemes such as PM Kissan Samman Nidhi for farmers, and Ayushman Bharat health scheme for the poor. No point in allotting a scheme to a state which is unwilling to implement it for vested political interests," BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha stated.

Once the BJP comes to power in West Bengal, all central schemes would be implemented in the state, he said.

The issue of bringing home migrant workers has snowballed into a major political row in West Bengal over the past few weeks, with the BJP and the central government alleging that the state was not keen to take them back, a claim rebuffed by the TMC dispensation.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had last month hit out at the railways for "sending trains jam-packed with migrant workers with total disregard for social distancing norms".

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