An unwavering ally of the BJP in its tussle with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday echoed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attack on the state’s Trinamool government over its agricultural policies.
“It’s a matter of concern for me that farmers of West Bengal could not benefit from Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi. As governor, I’ve repeatedly approached the Chief Minister regarding this issue but none of my letters were answered,” Mr Dhankhar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The governor’s line was a faithful reproduction of PM Modi’s invective against Mamata Banerjee earlier in the day in which he targeted the Chief Minister amid a bitter face-off between the BJP and Trinamool ahead of next year’s assembly elections.
The Prime Minister had lashed out at Ms Banerjee, accusing her government of “destroying” the state and depriving its over 70 lakh farmers of benefits from the centre’s flagship PM-KISAN scheme under which Rs 6,000 per year is given to each farmer.
“Today I regret that more than 70 lakh farmers in West Bengal have not been able to get benefits of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. More than 23 lakh farmers of Bengal have applied online to take advantage of this scheme. But the state government has stopped the verification process for so long,” PM Modi said, addressing a virtual event after releasing over Rs 18,000 crore to more than 9 crore farmer families at a time when he is confronting the biggest protests by farmers in his six-year term.
Ms Banerjee soon hit back, accusing the Prime Minister of trying to mislead people with half-truths and distorted facts over the welfare programme. She blamed the Prime Minister of scoring political points through a televised address instead of proactively working to resolve their issues.
“While he (PM Modi) publicly claimed his intention to help farmers of WB (West Bengal) through his PM Kisan Yojana and alleges non-cooperation of the state government, the fact is that he is trying to mislead the people with half-truth and distorted facts,” Ms Banerjee said in a statement.
Ms Banerjee said that her government has always been ready to cooperate in the interest of the farmers and has written two letters to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and has even spoken to him two days ago.
A representative of the central government to the state, the Bengal governor has squarely placed himself as an antagonist to Mamata Banerjee since his appointment last year and frequently props up the BJP’s protracted campaign to unseat the Chief Minister.