Power play

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Power play

Tuesday, 03 October 2023 | Pioneer

Power play

Mamata sends her troops to Delhi to embarrass the Centre over non-payment of dues

While the BJP brass is busy formulating strategy for the upcoming Assembly elections in five States and meeting voters there, the wily West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has unleashed a 4,000-strong contingent in Delhi under her TMC MP and nephew Abhishek Banerjee's charge. Mamata's party leaders and cadres are here for a two-day protest rally to highlight the NDA Government's apathy towards non-payment of Central scheme funds to the State's workers. Interestingly, while the BJP is seeking action in the poll-bound States, Mamata has brought her fight right at its very doorstep and fired the Capital's political atmosphere. The rally has garnered attention for several reasons, ranging from demands for the release of funds to the TMC's clash with the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Another interesting point remains as to why Mamata chose to hold her mega show of strength in faraway Delhi and what the BJP feels about it. The two-day protest in Delhi was prompted by mounting concerns over the Centre's alleged neglect of West Bengal's development and the delay in releasing funds for vital schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Thousands of TMC leaders and supporters descended on the national Capital with a resolute mission — to voice their grievances against the Central Government.

On Gandhi Jayanti, the TMC MPs embarked on a sit-in at Rajghat to highlight their dedication to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi. The peaceful rally followed with TMC supporters and MGNREGA job card holders marching together to air their concerns. However, it was not a smooth ride for the TMC cadres from Bengal to Delhi, with them facing unexpected hurdles. Initially, a special train was booked for the TMC supporters and MGNREGA job card holders, along with the party's ‘panchayat pramukhs'. But the Railway Ministry abruptly cancelled the train, forcing the TMC to arrange for private buses to transport its supporters. Adding to the intrigue, the Enforcement Directorate summoned Mamata's nephew and party's number 2 leader Abhishek Banerjee for questioning on October 3, coinciding with the rally. Abhishek, however, has chosen to ignore the ED summons. As the rally unfolds, the nation awaits the outcome of this high-stakes showdown between the prominent parties. Though Mamata is challenging the BJP in the Capital, she has a lot to answer to people in her home State as there have been alleged irregularities in the disbursement of MGNREGA salaries by her Government, besides numerous cases of misappropriation of such funds. Union Minister Smriti Irani has also questioned the rationale behind the rally as TMC has failed to ensure even the minimum wages to tea garden workers in North Bengal. The BJP Minister is currently in Bengal, where she met tea workers in Siliguri. On the other hand, Mamata is a strong leader in her State and an important member of the INDIA bloc; her message in Delhi is indeed something the BJP must be watching very carefully.

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