Kolkata (West Bengal): Thousands of MGNREGA job cardholders from West Bengal have started leaving for the national capital, in several buses arranged by Trinamool Congress (TMC), for a protest scheduled next week against the alleged withholding of funds by the Centre.
The protesters, under the banner of 'Dilli Cholo: A fight for our rights!', will raise chorus for the payment of alleged arrears for 100 days of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme.
They were scheduled to travel on a 'special' Howrah-Delhi train arranged by the TMC, on Saturday.
However, the Eastern Railway, turned down the permission for the travel citing the unavailability of coaches as per the desired rake composition.
One of the protestors, in a video posted by the TMC on the social media platform X, said the cancellation of the train "cannot stop us from protesting".
After covering a 1,500-km-plus journey over two-and-a-half days, the protesting MGNREGA job cardholders will pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat on his birth anniversary on October 2 and move on to Krishi Bhawan, housing the Rural Development Ministry which oversees the MNREGA programme.
The day after, on October 3, the protestors will hold a protest near the iconic Jantar Mantar in the national capital. The protest will be spearheaded by TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.
Abhishek will frontline the protest, ignoring summons by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in connection with the alleged teachers' recruitment scam in West Bengal.
The agency had earlier asked him to appear for questioning in the case on October 3. However, the TMC leader said he would be unable to appear before the ED owing to his preoccupation with the party's protest in the national capital.
Earlier, on September 16, a delegation from the TMC had written to the officer of Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh, seeking an appointment with him.
However, a notice from the minister's office said he would not be available in Delhi on October 3 due to "unavoidable circumstances".
Meanwhile, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh told ANI that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will not be attending the protest, as she was advised 10 days of rest by doctors after suffering a leg injury.
"But the party's top leaders, including MLAs and MPs, will attend the protest," Ghosh said.