Delhi braces for MNREGA stir; 49 busloads of protesters arrive from West Bengal

TMC is holding the 2-day stir against the alleged denial of MGNREGA funds to Bengal

TMC supporters boarding a bus in Kolkata before leaving for Delhi to take part in a protest | PTI TMC supporters boarding a bus in Kolkata before leaving for Delhi to take part in a protest | PTI

As many as 49 busloads of people from West Bengal, protesting against the Centre's alleged denial of MGNREGA ( Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and housing scheme funds to the Bengal government, will arrive in the national capital on Monday. The two-day protest is being organised by the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, who will helm the 'Dilli Cholo: A fight for our rights!' protest, reached Delhi on Sunday. The party MPs and MLAs will hold a peaceful sit-in at Rajghat on Monday. A peaceful rally of the MGNREGA  job card holders is also being planned on Tuesday. 

Banerjee said that the permission for the protest at Jantar Mantar was given verbally and written permission was still pending. "Section 144 has been imposed in that area (Jantar Mantar)," he added. 

The Centre allegedly froze the funds to West Bengal alleging rampant corruption and siphoning off the funds. The Centre had acknowledged that Bengal was the only state besides Lakshadweep, a Union Territory, to be denied funds in the 2022- '23 fiscal as per provision of Section 27 of the MGNREG Act due to non-compliance of directives of the central government.

Banerjee said the agitation will continue till the rightful dues of the people of Bengal are released by the Centre. "Though the state government had sent verified lists of beneficiaries in December 2022, the Centre is yet to make payments. If anyone is found guilty of corruption in a 100-day work or housing scheme, let action be taken against them, but why is money to the beneficiaries stopped?" he asked. 

Banerjee had also accused the Centre of refusing to allot a special train to Delhi despite the party's request. Indian Railways had cited the unavailability of rakes for its refusal to run a special train to Delhi. Prominent airline Vistara too cancelled one of its flights from Kolkata to Delhi scheduled for Sunday, saying it needed to operate additional flights for passengers stranded in Kolkata and Port Blair.

"Refusal to allot a special train, cancellation of flight, denial of permission for holding the protest meeting in Delhi, all indicate their attempt to stop the voice of the state's people," Banerjee alleged. Several Trinamool Congress workers were injured when one of the 49 buses taking them to Delhi to take part in a protest met with an accident in Jharkhand on Sunday.

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