In an advertisement in a few Kolkata newspapers on February 25, a photo of a Kolkata woman was used along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to showcase the success of the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
The ad titled ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat, Atmanirbhar Bengal’ claimed that 24 lakh families have benefitted from the Centre’s scheme so far in West Bengal. “It is due to Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana that I have a house and a roof over my head,” the ad quoted the woman as saying.
According to India Today India Today TV met the woman to find the truth after it was alleged that the woman was not a beneficiary of the central scheme.
Lakshmi Devi, a resident of Malanga Lane in Bowbazar area of Kolkata, confirmed to media that she was indeed the woman pictured in newspapers.
However, Lakshmi said that none of the claims attributed to her in the advertisement were true.
“The woman in the photo is me but I don’t have any knowledge about it [the ad].”
Contrary to the claims made in the ad, Lakshmi Devi said she never got a house under the central scheme.
“I stay with six others in a one-room rented accommodation in Bahubazar area for which we pay Rs 500 per month.
While the kids sleep inside, we are forced to sleep outside on the footpath at night,” Lakshmi told media as she led the way to her small shanty that only had a bed and a refrigerator as furniture.
“We do not even have a washroom,” Lakshmi added.
Reiterating that the claims of her getting a house were false, Lakshmi Devi said it was only after neighbours told her about the newspaper clipping that she learnt about the advertisement.
“I got scared when I saw my photo in the newspaper. I don’t know who took my photo and when,” she told .
Lakshmi said that the photo could have been taken during a mela in Babughat where she had been cleaning toilets.
She, however, said that no one approached her and asked for her permission to be photographed.
When asked if she had approached the BJP office, Lakshmi Devi said she hasn’t spoken with anyone from the party so far. “I haven’t spoken to them. I am illiterate and don’t understand any of this,” she said.
Having caught read hand when contacted by media BJP MP Arjun Singh refused to comment on the matter.
Taking cue from this episode West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday alleged that the Centre is selling off government concerns and only Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “factory of lies” will remain.
Banerjee said that the BJP is advertising tall claims about what it will do for the people of Bengal, but the party has reneged on promises made in its manifesto for the assembly elections in Assam and Tripura.
Addressing an election rally here in Purulia district, the West Bengal chief minister claimed that BJP governments in the two northeastern states have rendered thousands of government employees jobless.
“They are closing down all central concerns. Only one factory will be there, that of Narendra Modi’s lies and the BJP’s fraud,” she said.