Launching a tirade against the BJP-led Union government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said the Centre should do away with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime if it is unable to clear the dues it owed to the state.
Banerjee wondered if she would have to “beg” to get the dues cleared.
Addressing a rally in the tribal-dominated Belpahari area of the Jhargram district, she said the BJP-led government must either make the payment or the party must step down from the seat of power.
“They are not releasing funds under the MNREGA scheme. The BJP has to step down from power if it does not clear our dues. The Centre must scrap GST if it is can’t clear the state’s dues (‘Jodi amader bokeya na dey, tahole bondo kore dik GST’).
“They are not doing us any favour by giving us GST dues; it is people’s money that they have taken through GST,” she said at the birth anniversary programme of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda.
Banerjee said that she had also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and raised the matter.
“We had agreed on implementing the GST; we thought the Centre would clear our dues. But now the Centre is taking away all money collected as GST but not giving us our dues. I had met the Prime Minister and requested him, but nothing moved forward. Are we supposed to beg for it? “Why should we pay GST if the Centre is not clearing our dues? If the Centre can’t give us the money, we can also stop paying GST. (Amrao tho bondho kore dite pari, keno GST tax debo?) The country is for the people, not for politicians. This is not BJP’s money,” she said.
Listing out schemes “under which funds have been withheld”, Banerjee said the Union government is constitutionally bound to pay the state for the 100-day work scheme.
“I would like to tell the central government that releasing funds for the 100-day work scheme is a constitutional norm. The Centre must pay; it is not an obligation, but a compulsion as the law has been passed by both Houses of the Parliament,” she said.
With inputs from News18