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Kolkata: ‘Reduce-money’, the colloquial time period for extortion, is again to hang-out West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — this time within the type of corruption allegations within the distribution of aid to folks affected by final month’s Cyclone Amphan.
The West Bengal authorities has acquired over 2,100 complains till final Friday, amid reviews of clashes and assaults on panchayat and block improvement places of work and villagers’ protests in opposition to alleged embezzlement by the Trinamool Congress’ grass-root leaders. Earlier, there had been a number of allegations and motion in circumstances involving ration distribution throughout the lockdown.
CM Mamata, having been pushed onto the again foot, known as an all-party assembly final week and shaped a committee together with opposition leaders corresponding to Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh to supervise Amphan aid distribution, set tips, and put together a decision interesting to the Centre for help.
With meeting elections set to be held in about 9 months, Mamata’s Trinamool has hailed this step as “transparency”, whereas the opposition has known as it an “eyewash”, and political observers say it’s an indication of her “nervousness” and “try to shift blame”.
The most recent uproar over Amphan aid is the third occasion of individuals protesting in opposition to Mamata and the Trinamool Congress, after the unique ‘cut-money’ allegations and the ration-distribution fiasco throughout the Covid-19 lockdown. In all three cases, the names of district- and state-level Trinamool leaders have featured in reference to alleged scams, and Mamata has needed to defend her celebration every time.
‘Reduce-money’ meant corruption on the celebration stage — extorting cash from the beneficiaries of presidency schemes. The ‘minimize’ different from 20-40 per cent of the whole advantages, relying on the leaders approached. Amid protests over ‘cut-money’, CM Mamata had said the celebration by no means requested for it, and authorized motion can be taken in opposition to the leaders who have been concerned.
Then got here the allegations on foodgrain distribution. In line with police reviews, there have been 205 protests and violations of regulation in April-Might in 15 districts, as Trinamool leaders on the block and district ranges have been accused of hoarding grains meant for the general public distribution system. There have been additionally related allegations in opposition to some BJP leaders. The CM instructed the police to e-book the offenders, and even removed the meals and distribution secretary, a senior IAS officer.
Now, even earlier than the mud had settled, got here allegations about corruption in implementing the state authorities’s Rs 6,250-crore Amphan relief package. In line with over 2,000 complaints acquired at state secretariat Nabanna, panchayat pradhans and members allegedly included their household’s names within the checklist of beneficiaries, as a substitute of the actually needy.
Essentially the most obvious instance of this was in Garalgacha gram panchayat in Hooghly district, the place the pradhan, Manoj Singh, has listed his personal telephone quantity in opposition to greater than 100 beneficiaries’ names, out of a complete checklist of 166. His spouse’s title was additionally on the checklist, a Trinamool assertion accepted. The pradhan was eliminated, adopted by different such circumstances.
On 24 June, Mamata known as an all-party assembly and announced the formation of a committee together with BJP’s Dilip Ghosh and CPI(M)’s Sujan Chakraborty to oversee aid distribution.
The CM had mentioned: “No person might be spared. I’ve repeatedly mentioned that the victims ought to get the aid. If anyone has any criticism of non-payment of aid cash, lodge a criticism with the BDO’s workplace or with the native police station. Quick motion might be taken.”
‘Larger rip-off than cut-money’
Senior Trinamool chief Om Prakash Mishra mentioned Mamata’s initiative to contain all events was distinctive. “It displays her transparency. She didn’t spare her personal celebration males. Police will take motion in opposition to all who indulged in such corruption,” Mishra mentioned.
Nonetheless, opposition leaders have known as the CM’s initiative an eyewash.
CPI(M)’s Chakraborty advised ThePrint: “This all-party assembly and the committee have been an eyewash. The federal government order notifying the committee has no point out of Amphan aid. It’s about writing a decision by all events of Bengal to the Centre looking for help in preventing the Covid scenario and Amphan aftermath. I’ve written to the chief secretary looking for clarification about this.”
State BJP chief Ghosh added: “I’ve written to the Prime Minister’s Workplace in regards to the rampant corruption. Overlook about ‘cut-money’, Trinamool Congress is now stealing central funds and ration coming for the poor.”
Ghosh mentioned BJP employees had collected the names of 1,500 folks whose homes have been broken at Dantan block in Paschim Medinipur. “Of 1,500, just one particular person’s title figured within the checklist of 271 folks launched by the block workplace,” he alleged.
Political analyst Prof. Biswanath Chakraborty of Kolkata’s Rabindra Bharati College mentioned the Amphan aid rip-off seems to be greater than cut-money and different earlier allegations.
“Corruption has been institutionalised in Bengal. It is a enormous rip-off and its magnitude is far greater. It’s Rs 20,000 per beneficiary. To me, it seems just like the state- and district-level leaders consciously pushed their folks into this for making their political fund prepared earlier than elections,” Chakraborty mentioned.
Concerning the violent protests in opposition to this alleged corruption, he added: “This isn’t about Trinamool and BJP. There’s a public resistance now in opposition to the corruption in authorities schemes. This was the explanation why Trinamool Congress suffered an electoral setback within the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.”
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