Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
CPM 'extortion' after job blacklist threat

CPM 'extortion' after job blacklist threat

Author: Correspondent
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: April 9, 2009
URL: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090409/jsp/bengal/story_10796936.jsp

Poll funds wrenched out of the poorest

The CPM has been accused of ex- torting Rs 150 each from villagers who have to toil eight hours a day for three days to earn that sum.

Some of Bengal's poorest of poor accused the pradhan of Balijuri gram panchayat in Birbhum of threatening them saying they would not be enlisted among those to get 100 days' work under a central scheme if they did not pay.

The Telegraph has got a receipt for the money issued by the party to one of the villagers. It bears the signatures of panchayat pradhan Malati Ghosh and Birbhum CPM secretary Dilip Ganguly and says "Lok Sabha poll funds 2009".

Confronted by some villagers and a Trinamul Congress protest group, Ghosh fainted in the middle of a heated ex-change at the panchayat office yesterday. Panchayat employees sprinkled water on her and escorted her away after she regained consciousness.

Farm hand Ananda Gopal Roy was one of those who paid Rs 150 to the pradhan. "She (Ghosh) told me that like many others in the village, I wouldn't be enlisted for 100 days' work if I didn't pay. I paid her the money at the panchayat office. There were others like me too," said Ananda, 40, a resident of Balijuri in Dubrajpur, about 260km from Calcutta.

Ganesh Das said they had no other option. "Under the scheme, we are at least assured of 100 days' work."

Farm labourers like Ananda or Ganesh, who usually earn Rs 55 for a hard day's work, get between Rs 68 and Rs 103 under the national rural em- ployment guarantee scheme, meant for the poorest of the poor.

Around 4pm yesterday, Trinamul supporters who went to the panchayat to complain about "irregularities" in the list of below-poverty-line (BPL) families heard about the alleged CPM extortion from the vi-llagers and stormed the pradhan's office armed with the receipts.

"She had no answer to why she was collecting money from the poor villagers. She fumbled first and then fainted," said Sailen Mahato, who led the Trinamul group.

A police team, posted at the panchayat to pre-empt trouble over the BPL list, intervened when Ghosh fainted.

The Trinamul supporters lodged a complaint with block development officer Moumita Saha. "We are probing the charge," the BDO said.

The CPM's Birbhum district secretary defended the pradhan. Dilip Ganguly said: "The pradhan is a political person and can collect funds for the party. In this case, it is not her fault that she has accepted money in her office."

He went on to suggest that the villagers had come there on their own to contribute to the party funds. "What can she do if someone comes to make a donation," said Ganguly, admitting that the receipts bear his signature.

Asked about the threats, Ganguly said: "If the villagers were really threatened, how did they get the receipts?"

This evening, Ghosh even denied taking any money "in my office".

District superintendent of police L.N. Meena said Ghosh had lodged a complaint last night, accusing Trinamul supporters of hurling abuses and gheraoing her.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements