The Congress on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi whether he was withholding Rs 7,000 crore meant for West Bengal for paddy procurement and whether the CBI case against Suvendu Adhikari has been washed away in the BJP’s washing machine.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also asked whether the prime minister prioritised his PR over vaccines and funds under the National Health Mission.

“Today’s question for outgoing PM’s West Bengal visit: Is outgoing PM withholding Rs 7,000 crore of ration fund so that his face is printed on ration shops?

Did Suvendu Adhikari’s CBI case get washed away in the BJP’s washing machine? Does the PM prioritise his PR over vaccines for India’s children?” he asked in a post on X.

He asked these questions on the day when the Prime Minister is campaigning for the last phase of elections in West Bengal on June 1.

“In a very petty move, the Centre has withheld National Food Security Act funds to West Bengal for not displaying the outgoing prime minister’s face on ration shops. In an attempt to pressurise the state government to install signboards and flexes with the outgoing prime minister’s photographs, the Centre has withheld Rs 7,000 crore for paddy procurement,” Ramesh alleged.

He said this could cause serious hindrance in the procurement of paddy in the state and availability of rice for the public distribution system.

The Congress leader asked, “Why has the outgoing Prime Minister shown such disregard for the health and well-being of the people of West Bengal? Is his publicity more important than the daily food of the people?”

He said that in April 2017, the CBI had registered an FIR against Adhikari, the then TMC MP, in connection with the Narada scam.

In April 2019, the CBI sought sanction from the Lok Sabha Speaker to prosecute him and in December 2020, Adhikari joined the BJP, and the CBI never received the Lok Sabha Speaker’s sanction.

Similarly, he said, TMC leader Tapas Roy was raided by the ED in a money laundering case in January this year and by March he too had joined the BJP.

He alleged that just a few months before joining the party, the officer had alleged that Roy was involved in the municipal recruitment scam, but this allegation also “vanished” as soon as Roy joined the party.

He said, “The Prime Minister’s ‘Remove Corruption’ slogan is being shamelessly propagated across the country while his party is busy giving tickets to corrupt politicians.”

In his post, Ramesh asked, “Can the outgoing Prime Minister shed some light on why the CBI and ED action against these leaders is stalled? How can the BJP pretend to eradicate corruption when their ‘washing machine’ is running at full speed in West Bengal?”

He also alleged that the government has stopped funding of the National Health Mission to more than 11,000 sub-health centres in West Bengal. He claimed that these sub-health centres are the first line of defence for India’s poor – they are staffed with nurses and provide vaccines, tablets for children and medicines for common fevers, malaria, TB and other infectious diseases.

He claimed that the sub-centres should be called Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres, but the state government has named them Sushasthya Kendras. He said that on November 25 last year, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had written to the states ordering them to rename the sub-centres as “Ayushman Arogya Mandir” and paint them orange.

He said the medical community has criticised this attempt by the BJP to “saffronise” medical centres and the state government has refused to implement it.

“In a petty and vindictive move, the Modi government has stopped the funds just because the state government refused to give a different colour to the sub-centres. This is after the central government had already stopped the state’s funds for MNREGA and the central housing scheme.

“Why is the BJP, in its vindictive spirit, denying essential healthcare services to the poorest communities in the state? Does the outgoing prime minister prioritise his public relations over vaccines for India’s children?” Ramesh asked.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

first published: 29 May 2024 | 12:50 PM First


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