Infighting surfaces in TMC in Amphan-hit districts, BJP alleges corruption in relief work
Incidents of infighting in TMC units were reported over distribution of free ration and food during the lockdown as well. Mamata Banerjee had to say in public that nobody should try to take credit for relief work.Updated: Jun 02, 2020 00:39 IST
At a time when West Bengal is trying hard to recover from the losses suffered during Cyclone Amphan, incidents of infighting and clashes among Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers in the North and South 24 Parganas, two of the worst-hit districts, is making news.
While top TMC leaders said internal differences are being sorted out, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders alleged that the infighting is over illegal commission from relief funds being distributed in these districts and share of timber collected from hundreds of uprooted trees.
On Saturday, there were clashes between two groups of TMC workers in the Bhangar area of South 24 Parganas in which at least seven people were injured. A local TMC youth leader, Badal Mollah, allegedly sustained injuries from a crude bomb. One of the factions blocked the Basanti highway, demanding the arrest of TMC leader Kaiser Ahmed who is known to be close to a powerful leader. Bombs were also hurled at Ahmed’s office.
“The police will take action. No one, no matter how powerful he might be, will be spared. I have briefed top leaders of the party,” said Saukat Molla, district president of the TMC’s youth wing, who is alleged to be a rival of Ahmed. Molla refused to comment on the cause of the infighting. “If there is infighting, the party is capable of taking care of it,” TMC secretary general and education minister Partha Chatterjee said on Sunday.
“The infighting is over share of money being used for relief work. The ‘cut money’ (illegal commission) culture is an integral part of the TMC. With central funds coming in, the infighting has increased,” said BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu.
In the North 24 Parganas, BJP MP from Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat Arjun Singh said, “Thousands of fully-grown trees fell during the cyclone. Some of this wood is very expensive. Infighting has started in many pockets over share of money from the sale proceeds. In this confusion, TMC workers attacked our men as well and police slapped a case against me. This is the 77th case filed against me. Once the number touches 100, I will offer a grand treat to people.”
TMC North 24 Parganas district president and state food minister Jyotipriyo Mullick was busy in a series of meetings and could not be contacted despite several attempts. “The BJP’s allegations are baseless,” said a TMC MLA who did not want to be identified.
Incidentally, one year ago chief minister Mamata Banerjee curtailed Mullick’s organizational powers following allegations that beneficiaries of state-funded welfare schemes were being forced to pay bribe. She divided North 24 Parganas in five organizational zones and empowered five legislators to take charge of each. Mullick was asked to consult them before taking any decision.
Incidents of infighting in TMC units were reported over distribution of free ration and food during the lockdown as well. Mamata Banerjee had to say in public that nobody should try to take credit for relief work.