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Monday, Oct 03, 2022

TMC hits streets to fight ‘graft’ taint

On July 23, Chatterjee, who was a Cabinet minister then, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the school jobs scam. Nearly Rs 50 crore was seized from two apartments owned by his aide, Arpita Mukherjee.

Activists of Trinamool Congress (TMC) stage a protest against central agencies ED and CBI, outside BJP office in Kolkata, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (PTI Photo)

THE ARRESTS of a [then] Cabinet minister Partha Chatterjee and the party’s influential strongman Anubrata Mondal, apart from court cases against 19 prominent leaders regarding their assets – all within a fortnight – has forced the ruling TMC on the backfoot.

On July 23, Chatterjee, who was a Cabinet minister then, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the school jobs scam. Nearly Rs 50 crore was seized from two apartments owned by his aide, Arpita Mukherjee.

Mondal was arrested by the CBI on August 11 from his residence in Bolpur in connection with a cattle-smuggling case. This has given the opposition parties an opportunity to target the TMC on the issue of corruption.

The TMC, long used to brazening out allegations, is clearly on the defensive as heat rises over corruption charges. Having distanced itself from Chatterjee, sources say the TMC might follow the same course of action on Mondal – who is seen as a strong organiser – too. Although the ruling party distanced itself from Mondal initially, the hesitation on the part of its leadership to take any immediate action against him highlights the kind of impact his arrest has made on the party’s rank and file.

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Meanwhile, the second tier of the TMC leadership has taken to the streets over the past few days, demanding “neutral” investigation on the part of the ED and the CBI and demanded arrest of leader of opposition in the state Assembly Suvendu Adhikari in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.

TMC leader Madan Mitra said during one such protest rally, “We are demanding neutral investigation. Allegations are also there against Suvendu. Why didn’t the CBI arrest Adhikari in the Narada scam? Our fight for justice will continue.”

The opposition, however, hit out at the TMC’s attempts at damage control. CPIM leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “Once Mamata Banerjee came out in the street with placards, raising slogans. Now they are not doing so. Instead, they are sending youngsters and students. Why? We want a statement from [CM] Mamata Banerjee.”

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BJP leader Dilip Ghosh said, “The TMC chairperson cannot see how much her leaders stolen but claims that she can see how much Suvendu Adhikari stole? The administration, all through, helped in cattle-smuggling. Now they are protesting against ED and the CBI. People are observing all this and they also saw how huge amounts of money were recovered from Arpita Mukherjee’s flat. The people will give them a befitting reply. They [TMC] also know that. That is why their frustration coming out.”

On Saturday, the defacto number two in the Trinamool Congress and nephew of party chairperson Mamata Banerjee, Abhishek Banerjee, also gave a clear message that booth level workers of the party should make door-to-door visits explaining the stand of the party and highlighting the good work of the state government. He also emphasised bringing person with “clean image” into the local level leadership.

A senior TMC leader said, “It is true that the arrest of Partha Chatterjee and seizure of huge amounts of cash tarnished our image…And Mondal’s arrest has made a huge impact on our organisation. Anubrata is now not a factor just in Birbhum but in districts such as Nadia, Murshidabad, West Burdwan and many others too. In those districts, our electoral machinery also depended on Anubrata. Now we have to control this damage as soon as possible and come up with one or more alternative to Anubrata. Otherwise, the party will have a tough time in the coming panchayat and Lok Sabha election.”

First published on: 14-08-2022 at 03:28:10 am
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