KOLKATA: War of words intensified between West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, as they continued to shoot off letters to lash out at each other over a host of issues, the latest bone of contention being the PM-Kisan scheme.
The governor on Sunday sent a missive to Banerjee, seeking to know why the state wants to be an "intermediary" in the transfer of central funds to farmers under the PM-Kisan scheme, a day after the CM, in a letter, asked him to "act within the mandates of the Constitution".
Earlier in the week, Banerjee wrote to the Centre, saying that she was ready to implement PM-Kisan and Ayushman Bharat schemes in West Bengal if the funds are routed through the state government.
Dhankhar asked the CM to submit the proposal before the state Cabinet for consideration.
Describing Banerjee's request to the Union government as a "retrograde step", he expressed apprehensions that it might open floodgates of corruption.
"National policy is 'minimum government, maximum governance', why this approach of 'maximum government, minimum governance'?" the governor asked in the letter, which he also posted on Twitter Contending that the "recent rampant corruption with patronage to undeserving favourites in Amphan relief and PDS is fresh memory", Dhankhar said it was "time to be transparently fair to farmers".
Shockwaves all around that the Mamata Banerjee government seeks to be intermediary agent, he wrote, calling upon the chief minister to submit her proposal to the Cabinet for consideration.
"All are justifiably alarmed and concerned as to why the state government seeks to be an intermediary agent, at the cost of farmers, in PM-KISAN which provides seamless, transparent and accountable direct transfer of fund to farmers," Dhankhar said.
He claimed that the move has "dangerous potential to open floodgates of corruption and sap the essence of efficacy of the entire scheme that has found favour and appreciation all over the country, except in West Bengal".
The governor also said that the denial of central scheme benefits to the farmers of West Bengal have cost each of them at least Rs 12,000 so far and the farming sector of the state around Rs 8,400 crore.
He maintained that the implementation of the PM-Kisan scheme would have benefited the state's farmers to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore, as the Centre had announced a nationwide package of Rs 3.5 lakh crore for the farm sector, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the PM-Kisan scheme, the central government offers Rs 6,000 annually in three equal instalments to the farmers. The amount is directly transferred into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.