West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who launched a diatribe against the BJP-led Union government on Tuesday, said the center should abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime if it is unable to contributions it owes to the State.
Banerjee wondered if she should “beg” for the dues to be collected.
Speaking at a rally in the tribal-dominated Belpahari area of Jhargram district, she said the BJP-led government should either make the payment or resign the party from the seat of power.
“They do not release funds under the MNREGA scheme. The BJP must resign if it does not settle our dues. The center must scrap GST if it cannot afford state dues (“Jodi amader bokeya na dey, tahole bondo kore dik GST”).
“They’re not doing us any favors by giving us GST dues; it’s people’s money that they took through GST,” she said at tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary program.
Banerjee said she also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and raised the issue.
“We agreed to implement the GST; we thought the Center would clear our dues. But now the Center is taking away all the money raised as GST but not giving us our dues. I had met the prime minister and asked him, but nothing came out. Should we beg for it? “Why should we pay GST if the Center does not settle our dues? If the Center can’t give us the money, we can also stop paying GST. (Amrao tho bondho kored ite pari, keno GST tax debo?) The country is for the people, not for politicians. This is not BJP’s money,” she said.
Banerjee lists arrangements, “under which funds have been withheld,” Banerjee said the Union government is constitutionally required to pay the state for the 100-day work arrangement.
“I would like to tell the national government that releasing money for the 100-day work scheme is a constitutional norm. The Center has to pay; it is not an obligation, but a compulsion, as the law has been passed by both chambers of parliament,” she said.
Banerjee lashed out at the Bangladeshi BJP leadership for claiming it would make the center stop the flow of money to the state and trying to know if that money was “personally owned” by saffron party leaders.
Later, interacting with the locals, Banerjee claimed that a shortage of central funds was the main reason why the piped water project under Jal Jeevan Mission had stalled.
“The houses had to get drinking water through pipes. But the Center no longer gives money, so the project has been stopped. Once they have paid, we will implement it. We fight against the injustice done to us by the center,” she said.
Meanwhile, in response to Banerjee’s allegations, BJP leader Rahul Sinha said the flow of money had stopped because the TMC government failed to file certificates of use for the money spent under MNREGA.
“Let the state government first submit the certificate of use for the resources previously received; only then will it start receiving money again,” said Sinha.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee had tweeted that Munda taught people the importance of respecting and protecting indigenous rights.
“I offer my humble respects to ‘Dharti Aba’, the brave revolutionary Birsa Munda on his birthday. As a true son of the soil, he taught us the importance of respecting and protecting indigenous rights. May we remain steadfast on the path shown by him. Jai Johar!” she wrote.
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