Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday targeted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, accusing her of scuttling welfare schemes by the central government because there was no opportunity to swindle funds.
"There are no middlemen, no cut money. There is no syndicate. When the money reaches the beneficiaries directly, nobody gets a cut, syndicates' writs do not run. Why should somebody allow such schemes to be implemented?" the Prime Minister said, hitting out at Ms Banerjee's government.
In Bengal, syndicates refer to cartels that enjoy political patronage and are said to force promoters and contractors to buy building construction materials often of inferior quality at high prices from them. Cut money refers to the bribes that people have to allegedly pay to local leaders of Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress party to get money allocated under government schemes.
Without naming Ms Banerjee, PM Modi said that he "hoped God would give good sense to the state's policymakers".
Saying that it had its own medical insurance scheme with better benefits, the Bengal government had pulled out of the centre's Ayushman Bharat initiative last year complaining that the project was being used by PM Modi for publicity ahead of the then approaching Lok Sabha polls.
The West Bengal government also has a similar scheme to the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi which provides farmers an income support of Rs 6,000 per year.
Earlier, the Prime Minister attacked the opposition for trying to block the Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA in his address to students at the Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission.
"What you have understood (about the CAA), the opposition doesn't want to understand. Even after much clarification, those with vested interests are misleading people," he said.
West Bengal cabinet minister Partha Chatterjee condemned the statement, saying, "I protest the use of Belur Math for politics, for using it as a platform for politics. It is very disrespectful. It is completely alien to the Ramakrishna Mission's culture and ethos."
PM Modi and Mamata Banerjee, bitter political rivals whose latest flashpoint is the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), had a brief meeting yesterday during which the Bengal Chief Minister urged the PM to rethink the controversial moves that have triggered nationwide projects.
Though the two shared the stage at an event yesterday, Ms Banerjee stayed away from the programme today where PM Modi renamed the Kolkata Port Trust after BJP icon Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. He left Kolkata at around 1 pm today, concluding his two-day visit.