Alleging that the Centre is using the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the official communication of the flagship Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna to take credit for a jointly-funded project, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday announced that her government has decided to stop paying the state’s share.
States are supposed to bear 40% of the project cost, while the Centre will foot 60% of the bill.
“We are withdrawing from the Ayushman Bharat scheme. My state will not contribute 40% of the funds for the scheme,” said Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a public meeting in Krishnagar in Nadia district, where she accused the Prime Minister of taking unilateral credit for the project.
“The Centre is printing the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the official communication of the scheme for publicity. The logo has also been designed to resemble the party symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party,” alleged Banerjee in a rhetoric-laden speech of about 30 minutes.
Described as the world’s largest public health insurance, the Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission, launched on September 23, provides coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh for 10 crore poor families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.
Soon after her announcement, state chief secretary Malay De shot off a letter to the Centre conveying the government’s stance.
Leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party hit back immediately. “Like all other states, Bengal also gets a share of the tax pool. But Mamata Banerjee is behaving as if she is running a sovereign country. Moreover, we always encounter her pictures at all places from bus stands to public toilets,” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.
The National Health Authority (NHA), the central body responsible for implementation of the scheme, have been trying to reach out to the West Bengal government but there has been no response.
“We have had been trying to get in touch with the West Bengal government the whole of last week, but they did not respond to our requests for a meeting to address their concerns,” said Indu Bhushan, CEO, NHA.
Mamata also mentioned that earlier this year her government has already decided to pay the entire premium on behalf of the farmers for crop insurance. “This is a scheme where the Centre used to pay 20% while the state paid 80% of the premium. We will now pay the entire amount,” she said.
The Trinamool Congress chief criticised the Centre for interfering in areas that are earmarked as responsibilities of the state government such as law and order.
“It seems that the Union government is trying to run a parallel administration in the state. We do not interfere in central affairs.
Defence is a central subject and you did not consult with me when you went for the Rafale deal. Why are you interfering in state subjects?” she remarked.