KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is on a rechristening drive, renaming a good number of central projects with Bangla names. Her logic is simple. If Bengal contributes more than 40% for central projects, the state is well within its rights to name the projects in Bangla.
So very soon, the state will drop ‘Pradhan Mantri’ from the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana scheme. Similarly, the government has already rechristened Swachch Bharat Mission as Nirmal Bangla.
And the National Rural Livelihoods Mission or Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana (known as Ajeevika) is now called Anandadhara; the Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana (Gramin Awaas) is called Bangla Griha Prakalpa and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana has become “Sabar Ghare Alo”.
A determined Didi has been using every public platform to make her state’s intention known. “The Centre has reduced its share (of funds) in many central schemes. The state bears at least half of the project cost.
So, why should the schemes run in the name of Pradhan Mantri or in the name of leaders or ideologues of the respective political parties in power at the Centre,” is her argument.
However, bureaucrats have a different take on the name change issue. “The central names of projects do not appear familiar to the local people. So, to make a connection between the scheme and locals better, we often change the name to the local language. This happens in many states,” a senior government official said.
Ministers of Mamata’s cabinet, however, are singing from the same hymn sheet as Didi’s. “Earlier, Centre-state share for central schemes was 90:10. Taking an unreasonable jump, the Centre increased the state’s share four times.
So, the share has become 60:40. In many projects, we have seen project cost escalate. So, who bears the extra cost? It is the state government. Why should the schemes be called in the name of Pradhan Mantri or their leaders,” asked state power minister Sovandeb Chatterjee.
“We have seen the names of central schemes being changed when the government changes. JNNURM became AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation). In many schemes, they were re-launched in the name of their ideologues.
So, the name-game has been started by the party at the Centre. So, our chief minister has also changed all the names of the central schemes. The people now understand the scheme and its functions,” Chatterjee said.
The chief minister has been complaining against PM Modi for allegedly “violating the federal structure” for long. Apart from opposing the Centre’s demonetisation move, Banerjee also adopted the strategy to boycott any attempts by the Centre to directly coordinate with the state administration. The last such instance is her categorical instruction to district magistrates not to attend meetings with NITI Aayog members.
She upped her ante against the Centre’s scheme of making Aadhaar mandatory in several schemes, including the midday meal scheme.