KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Centre’s package of 20 lakh crore as a "big zero", mere eyewash to fool and mislead people. She accused the Centre of depriving the financially starved state governments of its rights.
"States are pillars of a country’s development. Nothing has been offered to the state governments in the package. Burning issues like waiving farmers’ loans, employment generation and ensuring liquid cash to poor people in distress were not mentioned in the package. The package is a big zero and it is nothing but a move to hoodwink people at this period of crisis," Banerjee.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on Tuesday and Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement on the economic package, Banerjee said, "Yesterday, when the Prime Minister announced the 20 lakh crore package, we were hopeful that the interest of the states would be looked into. But today, after the Union finance minister’s announcement, everything that was said yesterday was a bluff."
She also accused the Centre of trying to "bulldoze" cooperative federalism.
Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal of becoming "self-dependent", Banerjee said, "Now they are urging people to become self-dependent. West Bengal doesn’t need to be because we are already self-dependent."
The Chief Minister announced the Bengal government’s initiatives to ensure the flow of cash to the poor of Bengal. "The state government identified 50,000 acres of abandoned land drought-hit districts like Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore districts where projects like hatchery and fishery will be initiated. It will create job opportunities for a large section of people living in the region. We have already generated 13.2 lakh man-days under 100 days job scheme. Works have been started on 6,000 acres of land," she said.
Castigating Banerjee’s remark labelling the Centre’s package as a bluff, BJP’s Bengal president Dilip Ghosh said, "The central government will help the beneficiaries directly, without the state government’s intervention. It has annoyed the chief minister because her state will directly receive money from the Centre and there will be no scope to earn cut-money by depriving the poor."