(Eds: Adding details) Dumurjala (WB), Jan 31 (PTI) Accusing the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal of indulging in corruption, Union Minister Smriti Irani said here on Sunday that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi provided foodgrains for 80 crore people of the country for eight months during the pandemic, the rations were looted by the party in the state.
Irani deputised for Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah at the programme in Howrah district.
Shah's two-day visit to the state was cancelled at the last minute due to the ongoing protest by farmers in Delhi and an explosion near the Israeli Embassy on Friday. He addressed the rally through video-conferencing.
Maintaining that the PM had said that each migrant worker returning home during the coronavirus lockdown be given at least 100 days of employment under Garib Rojgar Yojana, Irani said, though countrywide more than 50 crore mandays were created, 'it did not happen in Bengal'.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said last year that the scheme was not implemented in West Bengal as the state did not provide any data regarding migrant workers who returned to their native places during the COVID-19 lockdown.
A state minister had claimed in November that Bengal had created nearly 31 crore mandays in the 2010-21 fiscal under the MGNREGA scheme, and the feat was achieved amid the pandemic, as the government made sure that workers who returned during the lockdown were included in the programme.
'The Prime Minister provided five kg rice and one kg dal for 80 crore people of the country for eight months through 'Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana', but in Bengal, TMC looted it during the lockdown,' she said.
Mentioning that Shramik Special Trains arranged by the Centre were termed 'Corona Express' by Mamata Banerjee, Irani said, 'I want to ask her whether sons and daughters from Bengal working in different parts of the country are considered viruses by her'.
Irani said, the Prime Minister had urged all to unite in the fight against COVID-19, but the 'TMC indulged in loot during the lockdown'.
Maintaining that more than 130 BJP workers died in Bengal, she said that their sacrifice will be remembered by people who will silently vote for the saffron party with the slogan 'chup chap, padma chap, padma chap (silently cast your vote by pressing the lotus button -BJP's poll symbol).
She claimed that though Banerjee is shunning Shri Ram, 'Ram Rajya' (implying good governance) will be created in Bengal.
While the PM had asked each state to distribute foodgrains on the basis of ration cards, in West Bengal coupons were given by the Mamata Banerjee government for such distribution and 'these went to those who are a part of the TMC', the minister alleged.
Speaking mostly in Bengali, Irani claimed that the hapless public were lathicharged when they came down to the streets demanding food.
She claimed that the chief minister only transferred some officers over allegations of misappropriation of rations, but took no step against corrupt TMC leaders.
'I want to thank the Prime Minister that he gave rice and dal to the people which Didi did not want to,' she said.
The Prime Minister transferred money to the bank accounts of poor women under the 'Jan Dhan' scheme, and also provided 80 lakh gas cylinders, under the 'Ujwala Yojana', to the poor women in the state, Irani said.
Irani said that the Mamata Banerjee government prevented opposition BJP leaders and workers from working for the people at the height of the pandemic in the state.
She claimed that relatives of coronavirus patients admitted at government hospitals were not provided information on their health condition or even when they died.
Accusing the TMC government of failing to handle the situation arising out cyclone Amphan in the state despite prior warnings, she said that the Army had to be called in to restore normalcy.
'The Prime Minister had given Rs 1,000 crore for Amphan relief as advance, but your leaders looted the money through panchayats,' Irani said, asserting that Banerjee will have to answer these questions.
She said that the Mamata Banerjee government has deprived the farmers of the benefits of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi for two years, by refusing to give the list of beneficiaries to the Centre.
Irani alleged that TMC leaders are involved in taking 'cut-money', which has 'become a practice' in the state.
The Union minister said, according to former state Rajib Banerjee who joined the BJP on Saturday after quitting the TMC, people cannot support a party which instigates fight among themselves, keeps bad relations with the government at the Centre for its 'narrow political interests'.
'No patriot can stay in a political party which even insults the slogan of 'Jai Shri Ram',' she said.
Several TMC leaders including one of the founding members of the party, Bani Singha Ray, shifted allegiance to the BJP at the rally, which was attended by Rajib Banerjee and many others. PTI AMR MM MM