After upcoming Bengal bypolls, TMC to protest against Centre on MGNREGA, GST, BSF issues

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Soon after the upcoming bypolls for one Lok Sabha and one Assembly constituency, West Bengal’s ruling party Trinamool Congress will start a massive agitation against the Union government on the three issues of MGNREGA and GST dues and BSF excesses in the border areas of the state.

Besides, the Trinamool Congress leadership will also contact the chief ministers of non-BJP ruled states and urge them to be a part of a joint nationwide movement on the issues.

Political observers feel that this initiative is prompted by Banerjee’s long-term plan to ensure that her party plays a key role in forging a unity of the anti-BJP forces in the country. The bypolls in West Bengal will be conducted on April 12, and the results will be announced on April 16.

Hours after the news was flashed on Sunday evening that as per records of the Union government, West Bengal has ranked first in job creation under MGNREGA scheme during 2021-22 by providing jobs to 11 crore people, the state issued a statement claiming that the success came despite a massive amount of Rs 2,876 crore of MGNREGA dues are due from the Centre.

A senior member of the state cabinet, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that this is something that needs to be highlighted. “And this problem of huge MGNREGA dues is not typical for West Bengal. All the non-BJP ruled states are facing the same problem. So, our appeal will be to all non-BJP political forces to come forward, highlight this issue and build a nationwide consensus against the Union government.”

Not in as many words, the state panchayat minister, Pulak Roy, also commented: “Despite the non-payment of MGNREGA dues such success came just because of the earnest approach of the state government under the dynamic leadership of our chief minister. When lakhs of migrant workers returned to the state and the Union government did nothing about them, we stood by the migrant workers. That is why Bengal came first on his count, pitting behind other Indian states,” Roy said.

The second issue on which Trinamool Congress is trying to build a consensus is on the pending dues on the state government’s share in Goods & Services Tax (GST). On April 7, 2022, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told media that a massive amount of Rs 90,000 crore of GST dues are also pending from the Centre.

“Our chief minister had carried out several interactions with chief ministers of non-BJP ruled states and all of them have the same complaint of huge GST dues. So, this is yet another issue where our leadership will propose a nationwide consensus on,” said the cabinet member who did not wish to be named.

The third issue on this count where the Trinamool Congress wants a united consensus of the all the non-BJP parties are relating to alleged excesses by the Border Security Personnel (BSF) personnel in the bordering villages in West Bengal.

The anger of Trinamool Congress was triggered after Sirajul Haque, described by BSF as a cattle smuggler, was killed in BSF firing at Indo-Bangladesh bordering Sitai Assembly constituency in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. According to Trinamool Congress MLA from Sitai assembly constituency, Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia, BSF personnel had been resorting to excesses over villagers in the bordering villages since the Union home ministry extended BSF’s authority jurisdiction area to 50 kilometers from the LOC in the state’s having borders with Bangladesh and Pakistan. “The BSF personnel are killing innocent people and unnecessarily harassing innocent villagers. There should be nationwide protests on this issue and we demand compensation from the Union government for the family of the victim,” Basunia said.

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