Trinamool Congress suspends 18 workers after allegations of corruption in distribution of cyclone relief amount
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Tuesday suspended 18 of its panchayat workers and leaders in the Nandigram area of East Midnapore district after allegations of nepotism and corruption in distribution of monetary compensation to people affected by cyclone Amphan which hit the state on May 20.
These were among the 200 workers and leaders who were issued show-cause notice on Sunday.
The state government had released a relief package of Rs 6,800 crore. A part of this amount is being spent as compensation for those whose houses were damaged by cyclone Amphan. But there have been complaints that thousands of people whose houses were not damaged also got the money.
More than 50 of those TMC workers who received show-cause notice from the party in Nandigram have returned the compensation of Rs 20,000 that the government transferred to their bank accounts for repairing homes. In no other area of Bengal has so many people been charged by the party in a single move. Complaints of nepotism in south Bengal districts run into thousands.
“TMC will conduct a survey in all 25 community blocks in the district and take action against errant workers,” said Sisir Adhikari, TMC Lok Sabha member and the party’s East Midnapore unit president.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had on Sunday said that those involved in nepotism would be punished by the party.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said on Monday that the state government is rectifying the lapses which might have occurred in its efforts to pay the compensation to the victims quickly.
“A few lapses might have taken place while we fast- tracked the compensation payment process on an emergency basis. We are rectifying the anomalies. Every affected family will receive the monetary relief,” she had said.
Incidentally, the TMC-led movement against acquisition of farmland for a chemical hub at Nandigram witnessed unprecedented violence in the last years of the Left Front government and helped Banerjee come to power in 2011. The violence, which continued for more than two years, erupted after 14 villagers died in police firing in 2007.
It is widely acknowledged that without the Nandigram movement and a prolonged agitation against the proposed Tata small car plant at Singur in Hooghly district, Banerjee might not have been able to overthrow the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led government. The two incidents rocked the state, became headlines in the international media and galvanised public opinion against the Buddhadeb Battacharjee government.
“TMC sponsored the violence in Nandigram with help from Maoists. After she came to power, Banerjee promised to transform Nandigram with new industries. It never happened and local people had to look for jobs in other states. Now they are witnessing loot by the ruling party,” said Md Salim, a member of the CPI(M) politburo.
The BJP on Monday started an agitation at Singur as well, alleging that a woman who had asked for tarpaulin after the cyclone was raped by a TMC worker in June. The party said the woman and her husband were threatened and told not to go to the police.
BJP state women’s wing president Agnimitra Paul led the agitation at Singur police station. “The woman has two children. She was raped and threatened,” she said. An officer at the police station said that a complaint has been registered.
While community block development offices are still receiving applications from scores of people who did not receive the compensation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has turned this into a raging issue prior to the 2021 assembly polls. BJP state president Dilip Ghosh on Sunday launched a website where people who have been deprived can lodge complaints.
To counter this, TMC has accused the BJP of indulging in the same nepotism in several parts in North 24 Parganas district. On Monday, TMC workers staged an agitation at a panchayat office in the district’s Bagdah area.