Kolkata: Lashing out at the Centre for “trying to cheat the people” of this country, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee called the Union Budget 2019 an “act of desperation”.
Banerjee said the proposals from the finance minister came from an “expired budget” because the tenure of the current government is no more than a month.
Questioning where the money for the announced sops would come from, Banerjee maintained that the Modi government had no moral authority to place a budget for the next five years.
“What is the use of administering medicine after it has passed expiry date?” Banerjee asked. “Why did they not provide for farmers in the last five years? We have already started multiple relief schemes for farmers. This budget is just a photocopy of our schemes,” she said.
Speaking to reporters at the Bengal state Assembly on a day which also marked the first day of the Assembly’s state budget session, the chief minister announced that Bengal would withdraw from the Centre’s crop insurance scheme and instead provide the entire amount from the state exchequer.
“We used to provide 80% money for the crop insurance scheme and the Centre is putting the Prime Minister’s photograph on campaign material and making it look like it is their scheme. If we can provide 80% money, we can also provide the remaining 20%. So we have made a cabinet decision today to withdraw ourselves from the central scheme and run our own crop insurance scheme. We don’t need their help,” Banerjee said.
This is the second such withdrawal announcement by Mamata after she pulled out for from Modi’s Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme last month and replaced it by the state’s own Swastha Sathi policy. Banerjee had alleged that the Centre was taking all credit for a jointly funded scheme.
Characteristically scathing in her attack against the Modi-led Centre, Banerjee claimed that the Union government was “carefully destroying the federal structure by running parallel administration in states and interfering in matters like Agriculture which is a state subject”.
“They have cut allocations for the Swachh Bharat and Ujjwala schemes, allotted no extra money for NREGA and deprived SCs, STs and other vulnerable groups,” she said.
Banerjee maintained that alternative policy announcements of the opposition parties would be announced only after the common minimum agenda of the parties are mutually agreed upon.