Congress’s Rahul Gandhi has added voice to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s demand that the Centre pay its dues in terms of the MNREGA social welfare programme. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, the senior Congress leader, who passed through Bengal recently during his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, said he had received a representation from a farmer group on the matter.
Central funds for the UPA government’s flagship welfare programme have been on hold since March 2022, he said, reiterating a claim made repeatedly by the Mamata Banerjee government.
“I was informed that many workers have not been paid for work completed in 2021 due to shortfall in funds,” Mr Gandhi wrote.
“Moreover, there has been a drastic decline in the number of households availing work from 75 lakh in 2021-22 to under 8000 households in 2023-24. This massive scale down has been brutal on the most vulnerable- women, and SC & ST households. The lack of MGNREGS work and pending wages have forced many to make hard choices- particularly distress migration,” his letter read.
Mr Gandhi’s letter, supporting Ms Banerjee, comes amid the rift between them over the sharing of Lok Sabha seats in Bengal. Upset that Congress spurned the two seats she was offering and wanted more, Ms Banerjee has made a series of strong comments, and ended by declaring that she would consider joining the INDIA bloc after the election, depending on the results.
Trinamool, she said, was the only party competent to beat the BJP in Bengal. Questioning the Congress’s performance in the recent elections and in Bengal, she even predicted that the party’s score will slip further to 40 seats, bringing much joy to the BJP camp.
The Congress is keeping a stiff upper lip, reiterating that seat sharing with Ms Banerjee will happen.