Kolkata, Feb 2 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday labelled the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on government funds usage as "full of lies" and said she had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the concerns regarding the report's inaccuracies.
The BJP had seized upon the findings of the CAG report on Wednesday, alleging a staggering "mother of all scams" totalling approximately Rs 2 lakh crore in the Trinamool Congress-governed state.
Dismissing the CAG report, which the BJP has used to spotlight corruption in West Bengal, Banerjee asserted it as "replete with falsehoods and inaccuracies," further emphasising that she had formally communicated her concerns to Modi.
"I have written to the prime minister, urging him to investigate the matter. We have meticulously submitted all utilisation certificates. Therefore, it is confounding to hear claims that such documentation was not provided. It is alarming that the CAG office could make such erroneous assertions. The entire CAG report is full of lies," she said.
Banerjee made these remarks during a 48-hour-long dharna, which she initiated on Friday afternoon to demand the release of the state's outstanding dues from the Centre for various social welfare schemes.
"We have provided utilisation certificates for the expenditure of central funds since we assumed power in 2011. Why should we be held accountable for actions predating our tenure, particularly during the Left rule?" Banerjee questioned.
In her letter to the prime minister, Banerjee criticised the CAG report for its lack of due diligence and failure to adhere to procedural norms for the submission of utilisation certificates.
"Such erroneous reports give a misleading picture and are unfortunately being used by some people for the false propaganda against the state administrative machinery," she said.
"Further, the audit report seems to be covering the period from 2002-03 to 2020-21. Though CAG audit is conducted every year, it is not clear why this was not raised over the last 20 years," she wrote.
Appealing to Modi for his intervention in releasing the funds, Banerjee asserted that the state should not be deprived of its rightful share of funds based on unfounded and erroneous premises.
The BJP, citing the CAG report, alleged that over 2.4 lakh utilisation certificates, necessary for completed projects within specified timeframes, were not submitted by the state government, involving a total amount of approximately Rs 1.95 lakh-crore.
Commenting on the BJP government's interim budget, Banerjee remarked, "It is not an interim budget but the 'final' budget of the BJP government at the Centre." "They have slashed subsidies. With food inflation at 10%, it is at its peak. There are no provisions for farmers or impoverished individuals. The masses will respond fittingly," she added.
Banerjee said, "Unemployment is skyrocketing and has increased 44 per cent in India. Small-scale industries and the MSME sector are dying. The middle class and the poor are dying," she said.
Banerjee said she would remain at the dharna venue for the next two days, noting her upcoming trip to New Delhi for a meeting on 'One Nation, One Election,' while also criticising the BJP's purported agenda to transition the country towards a presidential form of government.
"How can a diverse country like India adopt a one-election model when many state assemblies still have active terms? This notion is absurd. The BJP aims to steer the country toward a presidential system," she concluded.
Banerjee is likely to leave for New Delhi on Monday night.
Banerjee said, "For the past two years, the BJP-led Centre has unjustly withheld our MGNREGA funds. What was our fault? They come here parroting messages in Bengali ahead of elections but fail to fulfil their responsibilities. Where are the funds for the 21 lakh MGNREGA workers? Those responsible for withholding funds should be held accountable for violating the Constitution," she said.
Banerjee accused the BJP-led Union government of even halting funds for the Grameen Sadak Yojana. "Nonetheless, we are dipping into our resources to construct 22,000 km of roads under the Pathashree-Rastashree scheme," she said.
Banerjee accused the Union government of being prompt in sending nearly 156 central teams to Bengal, and wondered why, "Despite identifying 11 lakh beneficiaries under the Awas Yojana, their funds remain unreleased." The latest stir is on the lines of a similar two-day sit-in led by Banerjee herself in March 2023, as well as Abhishek Banerjee's agitation in New Delhi and subsequent dharna outside Raj Bhavan in Kolkata. PTI SUS PNT MNB