‘It is 10% here’: Bengal CM on corruption complaints over Amphan relief
Stung by the opposition complaints of nepotism and corruption over distribution of money in Amphan relief, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the issue was being blown out of proportion, alleging that the rate of corruption in other states was at 90 percent. The chief minister gave no statistic or proof for the charge made against other states.
“In other states, the rate of corruption is at 90 per cent. It is 10 per cent here. Our administration is taking strict action,” Banerjee said at Wednesday’s press conference at Nabanna, the state secretariat.
It is alleged that the compensation of Rs 20,000 went to numerous people who suffered no loss during the Cyclone. It is also alleged that multiple members from the same families got Rs 20,000 each. CM Banerjee has asked district administrations to review the payments and take back the money. As a cautionary measure, some bank accounts are also being frozen.
“The opposition is blowing it [issue] up and staging agitation every day. The irregularities took place only in a small fraction of places. Good work was done in the rest of the areas. Corruption is rampant in other parties. When the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was in power every panchayat in Bengal was involved in corruption,” Banerjee said.
According to official estimates, 28.6 lakh houses were damaged by the Cyclone and the state suffered a loss of Rs 28,560 crore. The chief minister announced an initial relief fund of Rs 6,250 crore. Part of this money is being given to villagers to repair homes. On June 2, Banerjee said the government had transferred funds to the bank accounts of nearly five lakh people.
The CPI(M) reacted sharply, saying corruption has been institutionalised by the TMC.
“The government is submerged in corruption. We saw looting in the name of distribution of free ration during the lockdown. The same goes for compensation for repairing houses. Banerjee is in no position to talk about fighting corruption. If the CPI(M) was so corrupt then how come the inquiry commissions she ordered after coming to power couldn’t find anything,” said Sujan Chakraborty, CPI(M) legislator from Jadavpur and leader of the Left parties in the Assembly.
The BJP was quick to jump into the fray and accused the chief minister of lying over the issue.
“Relief for Amphan-affected people was looted in Bengal. Free ration sent by the Centre never reached the people. The chief minister is lying,” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.
The BJP has turned the alleged relief corruption into a raging issue prior to the 2021 assembly polls.
The party’s state president Dilip Ghosh on Sunday launched a website where people who have been deprived can lodge complaints.
Countering it, the TMC accused the BJP of indulging in the same nepotism in several parts in North 24 Parganas district.
The TMC on Sunday issued show-cause notice to more than 200 panchayat-level workers and leaders in the Nandigram area of East Midnapore district and suspended 25 of them. More than 50 of these people have returned the compensation. Similar actions are being taken by the party in other districts but the opposition has called it an eyewash.
“If the chief minister is so brave why isn’t she filing FIRs against those involved in this corruption. Let police complaints be lodged against our party workers too if they are involved,” said the BJP state president.
Ghosh alleged that the suspensions are an eyewash and the people will be taken back into the party fold after some time.
The CPI (M) questioned why the state government was not acting against those involved in corruption.
“Why is the party and not the administration taking action? This is public money,” said CPI(M) politburo member Md Salim.