Congress Challenges Modi on Paddy Funds, Health Initiatives, and Corruption

The Congress raises questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi withholding Rs 7,000 crore of paddy procurement funds for West Bengal and neglecting health mission funding. They also question the alleged immunity given to BJP leaders from corruption charges and criticize the government's PR priorities.

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 29-05-2024 18:33 IST | Created: 29-05-2024 18:33 IST
Congress Challenges Modi on Paddy Funds, Health Initiatives, and Corruption
Narendra Modi
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The Congress on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi whether he was withholding Rs 7,000 crore of paddy procurement funds to West Bengal and if the CBI case against BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari has got ''washed away'' in the ruling party's ''washing machine''.

Raking up the BJP candidate Sambit Patra's recent remarks that even ''Lord Jagannath is a devotee of Modi'', Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also asked if the PM believes Lord Jagannath to be his devotee. Ramesh said that the Patra's remarks are is ''deeply insulting'' to crores of Lord Jagannath's devotees across the world.

''The outgoing PM himself has claimed that he was not biologically born but sent to Earth by the Creator himself. Can he tell us where he claims to fit in the pantheon of Indian Gods? Does he truly believe Lord Jagannath to be his devotee?'' he asked. Ramesh also asked if the prime minister prioritised his PR over vaccines and funds under the National Health Mission.

''Today's questions for the outgoing PM's West Bengal visit: Is the outgoing PM withholding Rs 7,000 crore of ration funds so that his face is plastered on ration shops? Did Suvendu Adhikari's CBI case get washed away in BJP's washing machine? Does the PM prioritise his PR over vaccines for India's children?'' he asked in a post on X.

He posed the questions on a day the prime minister is campaigning in West Bengal for the last phase of Lok Sabha elections on June 1.

''In an incredibly petty move, the Centre has been withholding National Food Security Act funds from West Bengal for not displaying the outgoing PM's face on ration shops. In an attempt to coerce the state government into displaying sign boards and flexes featuring the outgoing PM's photos, the Centre has withheld Rs 7,000 crore of paddy procurement funds,'' Ramesh charged.

He said this could seriously hinder the state's paddy procurement and the availability of rice for the public distribution system.

''Why has the outgoing PM so callously neglected the health and wellbeing of the people of West Bengal? Is his publicity more important than people's daily food?'' the Congress leader asked.

He said in April 2017, the CBI filed an FIR against then TMC MP Adhikari 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, Ramesh said.

Similarly, he said, TMC leader Tapas Roy was raided by the ED in January this year in connection with a money laundering case and by March, he had also joined the BJP. Just a few months prior to his joining, Adhikari had alleged that Roy was involved in a municipal recruitment scam but this allegation also ''disappeared'' once Roy joined the party, he claimed.

''The PM's 'Bhrashtachar Hatao' slogan is shamelessly plastered all over the country even as his party is busy handing tickets to corrupt politicians.

''Can the outgoing PM shed any light on why CBI and ED action against these leaders has been stalled? How can the BJP make pretensions to eradicating corruption when their 'washing machine' is clearly at full spin in West Bengal?'' Ramesh asked in his post.

He also alleged that the government has blocked the National Health Mission funding to over 11,000 sub-health centres in West Bengal. These sub-health centres form the first line of defence for India's poor - they are staffed by nurses and provide vaccines for children, tablets, and medicines for common fever, malaria, TB, and other infectious diseases, he claimed.

While the sub-centres are supposed to be called Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres, the state government had named them Sushasthya Centres, he claimed, adding that in a letter on November 25 last year, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) wrote to states, ordering them to rename sub-centres ''Ayushman Arogya Mandir'' and paint them orange.

The medical community has criticised this attempt by the BJP to ''saffronise'' medical centres, and the state government has refused to implement it, he said.

''In a petty and vindictive move, the Modi Sarkar seems to have blocked funds just because the state government refused to paint sub-centres a different colour. This comes after the Centre has already blocked state funds to MGNREGA and a Central housing scheme,'' he said.

As PM Modi campaigns in Odisha too, Ramesh in another post on X asked, ''Today's questions for the outgoing PM in Odisha: Why has nothing changed after the horrific Balasore train accident? Does the outgoing PM believe Lord Jagannath to be his devotee? Will the Amarda airstrip ever be revived? What are BJP-BJD doing to tackle the heatwave and water crisis in Mayurbhanj?.'' He said 293 people were killed and over a 1,000 injured in the horrific collision of three trains in Balasore last year, but three railway officials were eventually held responsible and one can hardly absolve the Central government of their role in this mishap. Ramesh said in the Modi government's tenure, the railways has struggled with high staff vacancies across the country.

''The Modi Sarkar clearly has blood on their hands. After a disaster of this scale, why are staff vacancies still rampant in the railways?...What is the BJP doing to ensure that such a disaster never happens again?'' he asked.

The Congress leader also asked when it was built during World War II, the Amarda airstrip had the longest runway in Asia. Plans to revive the airport were first floated in 2021 and then approved in 2022 but no development has occurred till date, he claimed. ''Why have the people of Odisha been left hanging?''.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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