Bengal: Thousands Turn up for Left Front Rally Against Stoppage of MGNREGA Allocation to State
Kolkata: Tens of thousands of people descended on Kolkata from the city and adjoining urban areas on Wednesday to take part in the Maha Michil or ‘mega rally’ called by the Left Front to protest against stoppage of MGNREGA fund allocation to West Bengal by the Centre.
The rally was held against the backdrop of a flood of corruption allegations against the Trinamool Congress (TMC) with regard to the rural job guarantee scheme and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre’s “ploy to choke the state of MGNREGA funds” as well as to “expose the inter-dependence of both these forces.” The Congress, too, joined the rally.
The rally started at Ramlila Maidan in the heart of Kolkata Central and traversed more than 3 km up to Park Circus. Armed with placards, red flags and flags of all LF constituents and Congress, the protesters shouted slogans against TMC’s “corruption” and the BJP-led Central government’s “anti-development” moves. It also saw huge participation from students and youths.
Speaking from a makeshift podium at Lady Brabourne College in Park Circus, LF chairman Biman Basu said “the BJP and TMC are handholding for their own benefit and hoodwinking the people .... It was the TMC who had brought BJP into West Bengal. TMC on its own is the most corrupt force….It is also in clandestine understanding with BJP. The people of the country know how dangerous BJP is ..but our CM (Mamata Banerjee) has earlier given a certificate to RSS being a patriotic force .. Now it’s queer that she is talking against BJP and sitting on dharna.”
Basu also alleged a “huge conspiracy” behind stoppage of people’s programmes like MGNREGA, pointing out that meagre budgetary allocation had been made in the Union budget. “If there are irregularities in Bengal, then catch the guilty and punish them, but don’t scrap the scheme,” he added,
Senior CPI(M) leader Surjya Kanta Mishra, in his speech, took a dig at TMC, which was implicated in multiple scams involving thousands of crores of rupees, and said a CBI probe should start from the Chief Minister, who is the “fountainhead of all corruption and has personally benefitted from it.. “
Mishra said people’s lives were in shambles as welfare schemes like MGNREGA were being squeezed of Central funds, because of which project work had stopped. “However, the inner bonhomie between BJP and TMC is a known thing. Corrupt TMC workers in MGNREGA must be caught and the scheme should get a new lease of life with more budgetary allocations in a state like Bengal where lack of work in fields and lack of industrialisation was forcing migrant workers to venture out of the state for work”
“It should not be the other way round, as CBI is only catching small-time crooks of TMC and is not touching the heads”, he alleged.
Earlier, Basu had announced that on March 28, 29 and 30, the Left Front would stage protests across the state against the “theft in MGNREGA projects and the deliberate attempt of the Modi government to discontinue the projects in West Bengal.”
In the rally, Congress also protested against the cancellation of Rahul Gandhi's Lok Sabha membership and demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe on the Adani issue
Apart from CPI(M), supporters of CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc were present in the rally in large numbers, including leaders, such as CPI(M) state secretary Mohd Salim and Ramchandra Dom, RSP leader Manoj Bhattacharya, Congress leaders Ashutosh Chatterjee, Koustav Bagchi, Asit Mitra among others.
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