A majority of the government employees who voted using postal ballot in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections and opted to exercise their franchise against the candidates of the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal may soon find themselves in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s line of fire.
For a party that won 34 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the postal ballots favoured the Trinamool Congress in only 14 constituencies. The Left Front candidates got the most postal ballots in 25 Parliamentary constituencies while the BJP nominees secured it in two seats followed by Congress in one. Left Front and BJP won two LS seats while Congress won four.
Earlier, CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury had, in a letter to the Election Commission of India, alleged that only 12,000 state government employees were issued postal ballot or election duty certificate even though 40,000 such employees were engaged in election duty.
Considering the end results, the postal ballots seem not have had much impact on the candidates’s fortunes, but losing even those marginal numbers has irked Mamata who has now launched a ‘witch-hunt’ to sort out the employees with marked Leftist leanings.
The reason for the abysmal show of the ruling party’s poor is being attributed to the state government’s refusal to provide benefits such as DA at par with the central government employees to its staff. There has been a simmering discontent among the state employees who have been getting the DA, which is 42 per cent less than that of the central government staff.
After the postal ballot results were declared Wednesday, Mamata ordered its postmortem and on Thursday the core committee of Paschim Banga Rajya Sarkari Karmachari Federation, owing allegiance to the Trinamool Congress, held a review meeting. Party secretary general and cabinet minister Partha Chatterjee presided over the meeting.
“While we explained that not all employees who are associated with the poll process are from the state government, we also informed that some government employees have clear Leftist leanings. The minister told us to give him their names,” Dibyendu Roy, convenor of the core committee told The Indian Express.
The state government is now expected to consider favourably giving some more instalments of the DA. “The discontent regarding is quite palpable and we have told Parthada about it. He said he would take the matter up with the chief minister. We have also requested the minister to arrange for a meeting with the CM,” said Saumya Biswas, another convenor.