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Covid-19: War of Words Between Punjab CM, Union Minister Harsimrat Over Central Funds to State

Harsimrat Badal and Amarinder Singh.

Harsimrat Badal and Amarinder Singh.

Sharing details of the funds sent by the Centre to the Punjab government in a series of tweets, Kaur asked Singh why no relief was given to the needy, a claim the latter negated and said the state has received absolutely no money from the central government in its fight against coronavirus.

Days after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh raised the issue of a special package and release of GST arrears with the Centre, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Saturday claimed that the central government had given funds and foodgrains to the state to combat COVID-19.

Sharing details of the funds sent by the Centre to the Punjab government in a series of tweets, the Bathinda MP asked Singh why no relief was given to the needy.

Punjab received funds & grains to deal with #COVID_19 crisis. I am sending you details @capt_amarinder. People want to know where are the things came from Centre? Why no relief being given to them? Better you first distribute relief sent to u before making out a case for more.

As far as funds received by Punjab after March 20 when #Coronavirus broke out, please note the state received Rs 3,445 cr including Rs 2,366 cr on account of GST compensation & arrears, Rs 638 cr as RDG, Rs 247 cr for Disaster Mgt, Rs 72 cr for MNREGA & Rs 72 cr under NHM, she tweeted.

Hitting back at the Union minister, Singh accused her of brazenly trying to mislead the people.

"Your information is absolutely incorrect," he said in response to Harsimrat's series of tweets.

The Union Minister of Food Processing Industries also said that the Centre had sent wheat and pulses to the state government.

"This isn't all CM Sahib. Centre has also sent 15 kg wheat & 3 kg pulses for 1.4 cr people which is half of state's population. It's still lying in Pb godowns & not reached a single household. Shouldn't you prioritise work & ensure this relief reaches the needy at the earliest," she said in another tweet.

The chief minister, however, said the state has received absolutely no money from the central government in its fight against COVID-19, while terming the Union minister's tweets as another manifestation of her compulsive habit of lying and being ill-informed about even the basic facts relating to her own state.

Asking her to cross-check her facts, Singh said instead of using her office as a central minister to help out her own state, Harsimrat was shamelessly indulging in petty politics based on blatant falsehoods.

"What are you doing sitting there if you cannot fight for Punjab and its people?" he said, lashing out at the Union minister for trying to undermine the state government's efforts instead of supporting it in the midst of the crisis.

On Harsimrat's claim of central funds to the state, the senior Congress leader asserted that Rs 2,366 crore referred to by her on the GST count was Punjab's money, in lieu of the GST owed to the state against arrears.

And even there, Rs 4,400 crore of the state's money was still pending with the government, he said.

"You could not even get our own pending arrears released, leave alone get us the much-needed relief package to fight the Covid-19 battle, Singh quipped.

The chief minister said the other amounts mentioned by Harsimrat in her tweets were normal dues of the state against various routine heads, which have nothing to do with the Covid-19 battle.

As opposed to the 10,000 tonnes claimed by Harsimrat, the state had received only 42 tonnes of pulses so far, which is a joke' considering the state's requirement, Singh said.

The state government had sought a special package, including Rs 729 crore for hospital upgradation and Rs 550 crore for setting up an institute for advanced virology, as well as release of the pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) arrears of Rs 4,400 crore from the Centre.