Ahead of Bengal polls, Mamata eyes upper hand with cashless health scheme
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced cashless health benefits for 100 million families from December 1 with less than six months left for the crucial 2021 assembly polls, which her government hopes to win on the back of her developmental and welfare record.
“Every family in the state, which is not yet covered by any state-sponsored health scheme, will be covered under the Swasthya Sathi health scheme from December 1. Under this project, every family will get a smart card which would allow it to get cashless health benefits up to Rs 5 lakhs from around 1500 government and private hospitals across India,” said Banerjee.
The State had initially planned to cover around 75 million families under the Swasthya Sathi scheme, the additional 25 million families including those of artisans, drivers, domestic helps and rickshaw pullers among others would be brought under this from December 1.
“It would cost the state exchequer around Rs 2000 crore. Those who have not yet registered under the Swasthya Sathi health scheme can do so when the government launches its door-to-door campaign,” she added.
While on one hand the TMC-supremo played the development card, on the other, she upped the ante against the BJP, trying to brand the party as an ‘outsider’ in Bengal and attacked it on various fronts, including alleged delay in developing Covid-19 vaccines and payment of GST dues to States.
“After ruining the country’s economy, the Union home minister is now going to campaign for municipal elections. I have never seen such a country where a Union home minister is visiting a household and having food for a photo session when the economy is going down and unemployment is increasing,” she said, while adding that Bengal will not accept outsiders.
Top BJP leaders including Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda are expected to campaign for the upcoming Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation scheduled on December 1.
While announcing her government’s decision to extend the health scheme, she criticized the centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme and Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme.
“The Kisan Samman scheme has been so formulated that most of the small scale farmers in West Bengal will not be entitled for it. But even then we had sent letters to the centre saying that the state would disburse the money as soon as the centre releases the fund. But the money has to be routed through the state as the state is the implementing authority,” she said.
Shah during his visit to Bengal earlier this month had assailed the West Bengal government, saying that benefits of over 80 central schemes, including PM-Kisan and Ayushman Bharat, could not reach the poor in the state.
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