As angry villagers defy lockdown curbs to protest against alleged misappropriation of Amphan relief, the Trinamool Congress and even Opposition parties, including the BJP and CPM, are cracking down on their errant Panchayat members, making some of them return the money received.
Days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee promised punitive action for filing false claims, the TMC sent show-cause notices to nearly 200 party members and Panchayat functionaries in Nandigram and East Midnapore, Hooghly, North and South 24 Parganas.
On July 7, the party suspended 25 leaders for allegedly misappropriating relief funds. These included three Panchayat Samiti members, seven aanchal presidents, two Gram Panchayat members, four booth presidents, and one Pradhan.
Said one of those suspended, Nandigram-based TMC’s Bana Behari Pal: “I have accepted the decision of the party. I made some mistakes while creating the list of people who would get relief fund,” he said
Education Minister and Secretary General of TMC Partha Chatterjee admitted to mistakes. “The law will follow its course. The CM has already said there is no place for miscreants and the corrupt in our party. We have suspended many party workers and leaders and we are trying to prosecute them as per law.”
At Konaria-2 Gram Panchayat in South 24 Parganas, TMC panchayat member Bikas Biswas, whose wife and mother-in-law got compensation, has returned the money. Bikas who has a two-storied concrete house in Harinathpur village that has few signs of damage.
Dilip Ghosh, state BJP chief, says this isn’t enough. “Trinamool is only sending show cause notices to a few or asking them to return the money. But what about investigation? FIRs should be lodged investigations should start,” he said.
When asked about examples of BJP leaders pocketing relief, Ghosh said: “In a few panchayats, allegations are against BJP leaders. Not only the party will take action, police should start cases against such persons. The same treatment should be for TMC panchayat pradhans.”
In the Koniara-2 Gram Panchayat in Bagdah, BJP Panchayat member Pintu Biswas got compensation in the name of his wife and son when his house had little damage. “I don’t know how I got on the list. I never stole a single penny from anyone in my life. But when locals pointed fingers at me, I decided to return the money which came into bank accounts of my relatives,” said Biswas.
In the same Panchayat, Dipali Biswas, sister-in-law of CPM Panchayat member Kiriti Biswas, too, got compensation but following public pressure, she returned it.
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