BJP fires 'separate country' barb at Mamata's pullout from Ayushman Bharat

Mamata has best chance to become first Bengali PM: WB BJP chief Ghosh [File] West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee | Salil Bera

A senior BJP leader in West Bengal has alleged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was trying to turn the state into a “separate country”.

Rahul Sinha made the allegations after Banerjee announced on Thursday that the state was withdrawing from participating in the Narendra Modi government's Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme (informally called Modicare).

Ayushman Bharat, an ambitious project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, envisages providing health insurance to around 50 lakh people in India. Ayushman Bharat is structured to be a joint venture between between the Centre and state governments, with 40 percent financing from the states. Banerjee has called it a politically motivated project.

"I will pay 40 percent and you [referring to Modi] will earn name! I will not accept such a scheme," Banerjee said on Thursday.

Sinha, a BJP national secretary, reacted to Banerjee's statement on Friday. "It's her blatant attempt to turn Bengal into a new country. She would like to accept revenue and grants from the Central government, but would not support great schemes of the Central government," Sinha said.

Previously, Banerjee had changed the names of many Centrally sponsored projects in West Bengal as states would have to share more money for these projects. After the last budget, Banerjee had promised to support Ayushman Bharat. But with the Lok Sabha elections approaching, Banerjee has had a change of mind.

Banerjee said she would continue with her own insurance projects in the state, which insure government employees, casual workers and a section in the unorganised sector. Banerjee said she would extend such benefits to common people as well.

"If I could do so many things on my own, I could do the rest even. I won't accept humiliation," said Banerjee.