No Central funds if Bengal doesn’t paint health centres saffron: Mamata Banerjee | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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No Central funds if Bengal doesn’t paint health centres saffron: Mamata Banerjee

Dec 17, 2023 05:35 PM IST

The Bengal CM also attacked the Centre over the Parliament security breach. “There was a security lapse. The (Union) home minister has admitted that. It is a serious matter. We do not compromise on security issues

The Centre has stopped funds for West Bengal’s medical schemes because it wants all health centres to be painted saffron, chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged on Sunday before leaving for Delhi where she is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demand the release of Central funds for various social welfare programmes.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee (File Photo)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee (File Photo)

“The Prime Minister has given me an appointment at 11am on December 20. They (Centre) have stopped funds for the health department. They want all health centres to be painted saffron. Why should we do that? Blue and white is the official colour of our state. These are not political colours,” Banerjee told the media at the Kolkata airport.

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In Bengal, all government buildings, bridges and even road dividers are painted blue and white. Owners of private buildings are offered a deduction on property tax if they use these colours.

Targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Banerjee said: “Do we have to use the BJP’s colour everywhere? They will decide what people will wear and what they will eat. They will change syllabi and put rubbish in it. All this is part of a well-devised plan to disturb the minds of people. We are raising our voices. We will raise these issues.”

Also Read: ‘Parliament security breach serious matter’: Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Reacting to Banerjee’s accusation, Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “If she sees BJP in the saffron colour then tomorrow she may make the same accusation against the Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha. The Centre wants uniformity in health services across the county and it is not limited to the colour of the buildings. The Centre has set strict guidelines and rules as well.”

Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson, said she will attend the meeting of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) coalition of opposition parties in Delhi on December 19.

“They (Centre) stopped funds for the Banglar Bari housing scheme after sanctioning 11,00,000 (1.1 million) houses. They are not giving us our share of GST. I met the Prime Minster earlier also to discuss these. Abhishek Banerjee staged agitations in Delhi. I staged an agitation at the state legislative assembly,” she added.

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) housing scheme for the poor has been named Banglar Bari by the TMC government triggering objections from the Centre.

TMC general secretary and Mamata’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, with several other party leaders and workers, had in October staged a two-day protest in Delhi against the denial of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and housing scheme funds to the West Bengal government.

“They do not give the entire money. We bear part of it too,” Mamata said.

The Bengal CM also attacked the Centre over the Parliament security breach. “There was a security lapse. The (Union) home minister has admitted that. It is a serious matter. We do not compromise on security issues.

Speaking about the suspension of MPs from the Rajya Sabha Mamata said that they were suspended because they raised the issue of security breach.

“Our members of Parliament have already raised it and that’s why Derek O’Brien and many MPs from DMK [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam] and other parties have been suspended,” she said.

Although it has been found that Lalit Jha, one of the alleged conspirators, used to live in Kolkata with his family, Banerjee said Bengal has no link to the incident as alleged by BJP.

“This has no Bengali link. Investigations are on. They (police) have gone to Jharkhand and other states. Unlike them (BJP) we don’t talk nonsense. We make statements based on facts,” she said.

The TMC government has been demanding the release of Central funds for projects such as MGNREGA and PMAY. These were suspended following allegations of mismanagement and corruption.

During her recent tour of north Bengal districts, Banerjee repeatedly accused the Centre of marginalising the state.

Addressing people in Siliguri on December 13, she said, “The Centre has stopped funds for rural employment projects, village roads and health schemes. What crime has Bengal done? They are not giving our share of funds for schemes that help backward classes and minorities.”

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