State

Controversy over Prestone’s ‘eat vegetables’ comment

Shillong, May 20: Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on Thursday created a controversy by trying to bring in a comparison between the “problems” of the rich and the poor in this time of the pandemic.

“The rich also have problems… Instead of meat have vegetables,” he told reporters when they wanted to know what the government is doing to help daily wage earners.

The Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR), which has demanded that the government extend support to the poor and also clear the dues of beneficiaries pending from last year, condemned Tynsong’s comment saying, “Mr. Tynsong doesn’t deserve to be the deputy chief minister of Meghalaya… His insensitivity was further exposed when he put the minor problems of the rich and the salaried in the same basket as those of the working classes.”

“It is worth reminding the citizens that Mr Tynsong is also the labour minister who presided over the supposed income support of Rs 2,100 to the people who had lost their livelihoods in the first wave, for which government claimed that it had spent Rs 52 crore. TUR has shown that the government was lying about that income support because less than 25% of the supposed beneficiaries got the Rs 2,100 and Rs 5,000 booked against their names. Mr Tynsong has to account for the crores which has been not yet been transferred to the beneficiaries. Mr Tynsong’s government has turned the war against CoViD19 into a class war against the poor and working classes of Meghalaya,” it added.

TUR organised a virtual media meet on Thursday on ‘Income/Food Support for the Working Classes of Meghalaya’. Among the speakers were Angela Rangad, Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh, Wanpynhun Kharsyntiew and Moses Kharbithai.

Kharsyntiew flagged the problems of domestic helps during the prolonged lockdown following surge in Covid-19 cases in the state. Pyrtuh said the government did not even make an announcement about doling out benefits this time.

“We did a survey and managed to speak to some people on phone. Out of 36 beneficiaries, only six received the amount promised by the state government last year. Others did not get anything,” he said.

Rangad demanded that the government should clear the mess that it made last year and clear the dues to the beneficiaries of the Covid-19 dole.

When pointed out that many villagers had to travel long distances to the bank to withdraw the money last year, Kharbithai suggested that mobile banking would be a helpful alternative.

“As per the data I have, State Bank of India, Meghalaya Rural Bank and Co-operative Bank have maximum beneficiaries as account holders. If the services of these three banks can be integrated, the problem of dispersing of cash to the poor during the lockdown can be solved to a great extent,” he added.

Later in the evening, Tynsong told reporters that the government last year helped 2 lakh daily wage earners, and this year, it allowed MGNREGA schemes and construction works to continue during the partial lockdown. “What else can we do? It is not that simple as you think,” he added.

(Also watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIcZav0JjnI)

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