The frequent opposition complaint that the BJP-led Central government steals credit for state projects was highlighted dramatically today by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Taking Prime Minister Narendra Modi head on at an official function, Ms Banerjee declared that the project he was supposed to inaugurate was actually inaugurated by the state government long ago.
The occasion was the opening of the second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in Kolkata. PM Modi was expected to inaugurate it virtually from Delhi and was attending the proceedings online, when it was Ms Banerjee’s turn to speak.
“I have come to the programme because of the Prime Minister. Because Pradhan Mantri ji is virtually inaugurating this project,” the Chief Minister said.
“The Honourable Health Minister had telephoned me twice. This is why I thought this is a Calcutta programme in which the Prime Minister has taken an interest. I’d like to inform him that we have inaugurated the programme first. How did we do it? When Covid started and we needed a Covid centre, I went there one day. The Rajarhat second campus of Chittaranjan Hospital. I saw it was linked to the state government and we inaugurated it,” Ms Banerjee declared.
There was more. The Prime Minister, she said, “will be happy to know that we are funding 25 per cent and also the recurring expenditure — the state government is paying 71 per cent. We have given the 11 acres of land to build this campus”.
“This is why the centre and the state should work together for public benefit,” she added.
The Prime Minister’s Office had also ensured the participation of Leader of Opposition Shubhendu Adhikari at the virtual function, despite the Chief Minister expressing strong reservations over what she described as “breach of protocol”.
The last time Ms Banerjee shared stage with the Prime Minister, she had cancelled her speech after being heckled by supporters of the BJP with chants of “Jai Shri Ram”.
The rare joint appearance took place in January last year to launch an exhibition to honour Netaji Subhas Bose at the city’s Victoria Memorial, ahead of a bitterly contested state election.
The BJP got its payback in the polls, with Ms Banerjee spectacularly winning a third term in the state.