By Tirthankar Mitra
Like boils breaking out on a deceased human, protests against irregularities in Pradhan Mantri Aabas Yojana list are eruption in one West Bengal district after another. With panchayat elections inching closer, the regular outbreak of these demonstrations could not have come at a worst time for Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government which is already on the backfoot over probe in a slew of graft cases.
In so many words, the Trinamool dispensation has its plate of troubles full. If court orders on cash for teaching jobs scam and cattle smuggling cases had caught the Trinamool on the wrong foot, the PMAY irregularities have come as the third scam involving TMC apparatchiks in the rural areas.
It has come at a time when Trinamool Congress government is passing through its second year of its third term. And the PMAY protests display no discernible signs of subsiding.
Following a letter from. the Centre to do it, the state government has started inspection of the proposed beneficiaries of the PMAY list. It opened a can of worms as state government officials started theprocess.
Districts like Murshidabad, Malda, North and South-24-Parganas witnessed irate groups protesting before state government functionaries alleging irregularities and corruption in distribution of PMAY funds. Incidentally, the previous lists have been prepared by panchayats where mostly the TMC writ runs and cleared by local administration.
The principal grouse of the deprived crowds is that TMC affiliation was the sole criterion of the inclusion of the ineligible candidates in the PMAY lists. Economic backwardness which should have been the sole determinant have gone for a toss.
In many villages local villagers seething at their deprivation laid siege to the panchayat office. Road blocks protesting irregularities in distribution of PMAY funds are commonplace occurrences.
Seeing protesting their non-complicity and innocence to be futile, a panchayat body of 17 members have resigned in Murshidabad. But the Opposition and many local have opined it to be an eye wash.
Small wonder, a war of words have erupted as the fallout of PMAY funds scam. The TMC is robbing every government scheme, senior BJP leader, Dilip Ghosh said.
Trinamool leaders are involved in corruption from village to parliamentary levels, CPI-M leader, Sujan Chakraborty stated. The state government believes in zero toleration to corruption and the names of ineligible persons in PMAY list will be deleted, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.
To take the battle to the Opposition camp, the second man in TMC Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of chief minister Mamata Banerjee said recently that maximum number of ineligible names have been deleted in Midnapur (east).Till he resigned from TMC and joined the BJP in 2021, Suvendu Adhikari had the last word in matters big and small in this district.
The finger of suspicion has clearly been sought to be turned towards Adhikari, now in BJP and is the leader of the Opposition. It remains to be seen whether the smear sticks.
But to make it worse for the ruling dispensation, the protests are cutting across political divide. The other day, Samir Chakraborty, TMC MLA of Taldangra in Bankura district threatened to remove the Block Development Officerby raising in the state Assembly issue of his alleged corruption in PMAY fund distribution.
It sends a wrong signal to administration when Abhishek Banerjee is giving a call for an outfit sans corruption making way to a better party. Be that what it may, the Trinamool government is on a sticky wicket.
With accusing fingers being pointed at more and more party functionaries caught with their paw in the bottle, the Opposition is gaining momentum in a new year. Indeed the ruling dispensation has found itself under siege for the alleged misdeeds of its own men and women which is likely to be live ammunition as rich campaign fodder for the Opposition, come panchayat polls. (IPA Service)