Trinamool Congress (TMC) News

Diversion works won’t need forest nod: Karnataka to Centre
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

PANAJI: Karnataka has applied for green clearance from the Union environment ministry for its Kalasa diversion project, after the state received sanction for its detailed project report (DPR) from the Central Water Commission to divert water from the tributaries of the Mhadei. Karnataka has told the ministry that its project will not require clearance under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. TOI had earlier reported that Karnataka has reduced the forest to be diverted for the water project, allowing the state to bypass forest clearance norms and making it easier to receive green approvals.The forest land required is bare minimum and unavoidable, the ministry has been told. The forest nod is part of the environment clearance.No part of the project is located in any protected area or eco-sensitive zone, Karnataka has submitted before the Union ministry. “This project is situated 5-6km from the boundary of the Bhimgad wildlife sanctuary. Proposal for eco-sensitive zone of Bhimgad wildlife sanctuary is submitted keeping 1km from the boundary of the sanctuary. This project is essential and forest area required is bare minimum,” Karnataka has said. The Union environment ministry has been told by Karnataka that it will divert 26.9 ha of forest land for construction of a diversion weir, jackwell-cum-pump house, electrical substation, pipeline, and power line in Kankumbi and other villages for the Kalasa nullah diversion scheme.Karnataka has said that the scheme will involve the diversion of 1.72 tmc water from the Kalasa, the Surla and the Haltara nullahs ‘to augment the storage in Malaprabha reservoir’.“Thereafter, the water will be utilised for drinking water needs of the Hubballi-Dharwad twin cities, Kundogol town, and other areas en route.Besides the 26.9ha, 40.2ha of non-forest land will also be needed for the project, Karnataka has said, to be diverted for the scheme for a 30-year period.The Kalasa, the Surla, and the Haltara nullah all flow towards Goa into the Mhadei, which are being diverted by Karnataka, despite Goa opposing in courts the illegal work already being carried out by Karnataka.Karnataka has told the Union ministry that its Kalasa project will generate permanent employment for 50 persons and temporary employment for 250 persons.

Diversion works won’t need forest nod: Karnataka to Centre
Decision 2023: After massive gains last time, task cut out for BJP in coming Northeast polls
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

The coming elections in the Northeastern states of Tripura, Nagaland, and Meghalaya will see the BJP fighting to keep hold of the gains it made in the region in 2018. While the BJP is in power in Tripura, it is a part of the ruling coalitions with the National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) in Nagaland and with the National People’s Party (NPP) in Meghalaya.The term of the three assemblies, which have 60 members each, is set to end in March. Tripura will vote on February 16 and Meghalaya and Nagaland on February 27. Votes will be counted on March 2.A look at how the previous elections panned out and what is at stake now:The Nationalist Democratic People’s Party (NDPP) and the BJP contested the elections together. While the BJP won an unprecedented 12 seats, the NDPP’s Neiphiu Rio became the Chief Minister.This year, the state will again see an election in the shadow of the long-awaited final settlement to the Naga political question. It was in hope of this that all parties here joined hands in 2021 to form the UDA.The Naga People’s Front (NPF), which once ruled the state, has announced that it will be contesting the election alone and against the NDPP-BJP coalition. Like in 2018, both parties have announced a pre-poll alliance, with the BJP set to contest 20 seats and the NDPP the remaining 40.NPF – 26 (38.78%)NDPP – 17 (25.30%)BJP – 12 (15.31%)Independents – 1 (4.28%)JD(U) –1 (4.49%)There are fissures between the BJP and the National People’s Party (NPP) led by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma. In the 2018 election, Sangma’s party was backed by the BJP and the regional parties but contested 53 of the 60 seats on its own. The impression that the BJP is anti-Christian has been hard to shrug off, with misgivings of the community further strengthened after the surfacing of a letter by the Assam Police Special Branch seeking information from local police stations in BJP-ruled Assam on religious conversions and the number of churches in the state.The most vocal Opposition party against the BJP in the state is the Trinamool Congress (TMC), a new entrant in Meghalaya. In November 2021, 12 of 17 sitting Congress MLAs, led by former Chief Minister and six-time MLA Mukul Sangma, switched over to it. Mukul Sangma, a popular leader, can help the party, especially in his home turf of Garo Hills, which sends as many as 24 MLAs to the 60-member Assembly.BJP – 2 (9.63%)Congress – 21 (28.50%)Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) – 2 (5.35%)NPP – 19 (20.6%)United Democratic Party – 6 (11.61%)Khun Hyniewtrap National Awakening Movement – 1 (0.9%)The BJP came to power in the state for the first time in 2018, ending a 25-year reign of the Left Front. On May 14, 2022, in an abrupt change, the BJP dropped Biplab Deb and brought in the relatively low-key Manik Saha as CM. The Congress and CPI(M) are trying to put up a fight together, and there is increasing talk of an alliance between the two, while the tribal TIPRA Motha party, formed in 2021, may take away tribal votes of BJP’s ally IPFT. TIPRA Motha may end up being a decisive factor in the elections.BJP – 35 (43.59%)CPI(M) – 16 (42.22%)IPFT – 8 (7.38%)

Decision 2023: After massive gains last time, task cut out for BJP in coming Northeast polls
'Azad Kashmir' paper row: Centre seeks response from West Bengal govt
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

The Union Ministry of Education has sought a report from the West Bengal government over asking students to identify ‘Azad Kashmir’ on India’s map in a question in a test paper for the class X examination of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) for the 2022-2023 session.Education Ministry sources said that the explanation was sought on Wednesday after the issue triggered a controversy in West Bengal, where the BJP accused the Trinamool Congress government in the state of being “pro-separatist”.“The ministry has taken a serious view of the matter. For now, it has sought a factual report outlining the circumstances that lead to the lapse along with an Action Taken Report from the West Bengal education department,” said the source.While such interventions by the Centre on state board exams, which come under the purview of the state governments, are rare, in 2022, the Education Ministry had sought a response from the Rajasthan government over the issue of Congress party featuring in six questions of the class XII Political Science exam paper of the state board of secondary education.

'Azad Kashmir' paper row: Centre seeks response from West Bengal govt
  • Question on ‘Azad Kashmir’ on map stirs row
  • The Indian Express

    A question in a test paper for the class-10 examination (also Madhyamik) of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) for the 2022-2023 session asking the students to identify ‘Azad Kashmir’ on India’s map has stoked a controversy, with the Union Education Ministry asking the state government to probe the matter.Also, taking a strong exception to the development, the BJP accused the Trinammol Congress government in the state of being “pro-separatist”.In the test paper, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) has allegedly been referred to as “Azad Kashmir”. A screenshot of page 132 of the history test paper is being circulated on social media.The WBBSE releases a compilation of test papers every year ahead of the board examination. The test papers generally containing Class 10 pre-board questions framed by different schools affiliated to the board. The questionon page 132 of the test paper is of Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Vidyamandir, Malda.Union Minister of State for Education Subhash Sarkar asked the Bengal Education Minister to probe the matter. “There is a subtle anti-nationalist tone to it. All this will encourage the cause of separatist elements. We need to know who is behind it. Action should be taken against the guilty. It could well be a result of the state government’s policy of appeasement,” he said.State Education Minister Bratya Basu assured “strong action” will be taken against those at fault”. WBBSE president Ramanuj Gangopadhyay said, “Since it came to our notice, we are trying to correct it and find out what happened. We will talk to people who framed the question and those who edited the paper. Action will be taken after that.”BJP MP and party’s national vice-president Dilip Ghosh wrote on social media, “The Mamata government is a supporter of separatists. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir has been asked to be identified as Azad Kashmir. This state government is not only supporting militants, but also trying to create anti-India mentality among young students.”Congress leader Pradeep Bhattacharya said that “such questions should be avoided”.TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, “It is not possible to comment without seeing whether it is written to condemn, to oppose or to make people understand a situation. But we do not accept the such a thing.”

Thousands travel miles to CM’s backyard, raise their voice for Mhadei
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

SANQUELIM: In a gesture of solidarity and unity, water from all 12 talukas was symbolically poured into a large copper vessel on stage at the Virdi-Amona ground on Monday, as Jnanpith awardee Damodar Mauzo was among those who issued a clarion call to save the Mhadei.Over 3,000 persons from Canacona to Pernem stood shoulder to shoulder at the packed venue and raised their hands to pass a resolution demanding the central government withdraw the sanction granted to Karnataka to divert the Mhadei’s waters.Cortalim MLA Antonio Vas, an independent who backs the BJP government, sat next to opposition MLAs. In attendance were Vijai Sardesai, Venzy Veigas, Cruz Silva, Yuri Alemao, and Carlos Ferreira, as empty chairs marked with the names of ruling party MLAs were intentionally left unoccupied in protest.“Even during the Opinion Poll, there were those who told us to remain calm, and that they are capable of stopping Goa’s merger with Maharashtra. Today too, we are being told that needful steps are being taken to save Mhadei from diversion. But do not rely on such assurances, your work will not be done,” said Mauzo.“It was a Monday on January 16, 1967, on Opinion Poll day, and today also, it is a Monday,” said Prajal Sakhardande of the Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan, as busloads continued to flow into the venue and chairs were hurriedly added by the organisers to accommodate the swelling crowd. “Half of Goa, six talukas, drink water from the Mhadei. When Karnataka says it needs water from the Mhadei on humanitarian grounds for one taluka of Dharwad, what about six talukas of Goa,” said Sarkhardande.Activist and Chicalim parish priest Fr Bolmax Pereira asked the MLAs to resign if the sanction to the revised detailed project report of Karnataka for the water diversion is not withdrawn, and the opposition MLAs nodded to express their willingness to resign in protest over the Mhadei issue, if need be.“There are three lakh kannadigas living in Goa and we will fight for the Mhadei along with Goans,” said Sharan Mitti of the Kannada Dhangar Samaj.The audience roared in applause as writer Datta Damodar Naik said, “PM Narendra Modi and road transport minister Nitin Gadkari like to build bridges, but soon there may be no water left to flow under these bridges if the present situation continues.”TMC’s Kirti Azad, a former international cricketer, said that MLAs in Karnataka fight for their people against their own party’s government, and Goa’s BJP MLAs should do the same over the Mhadei issue.Speakers criticised the Goa government’s decision of granting multiple extensions in service to the already retired chief engineer of the state water resources department, alleging that he was sympathetic to Karnataka, being a native of north Karnataka himself.“More than 5,000 tonnes of fish and 293 fish species are caught by traditional fishermen from our inland waters. The Mhadei diversion is the final blow to traditional fishermen,” said Olencio Simoes, representing traditional fishermen.

Thousands travel miles to CM’s backyard, raise their voice for Mhadei
Most parties oppose remote voting plan, EC puts off demo
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

NEARLY ALL political parties that attended a meeting called by the Election Commission Monday to discuss remote voting were opposed to the EC’s proposal to allow migrants to cast their votes from outside their home constituencies, sources told The Indian Express.With parties demanding more in-depth discussion on the matter, the EC put off the demonstration of a prototype Remote Voting Machine (RVM), which was scheduled after remarks by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and a presentation on remote voting.According to an EC official, 16 representatives from the eight national parties — BJP, Congress, NCP, TMC, BSP, CPI(M), CPI and NPP, which is heading the ruling alliance in Meghalaya — were in attendance. A total of 67 participants representing 40 state parties also attended the discussion held at the Constitution Club in New Delhi.The official said the political leaders agreed with the broad objective of increasing voter turnout, while some asked for the demonstration of the RVM to be done in states. Others wanted the concept of domestic migrants to be defined before going ahead with the proposal.As a result, the EC decided to extend the date of submission of written views on the matter by the parties to February 28 from January 31. The EC had on December 28, 2022, written to all recognised national and state parties about its proposal to increase turnout among migrants.Except the BJP and to an extent the BJD, all other parties opposed the proposal, sources said. Even the BJP, which was represented by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, said it would give its views in writing. Yadav said the BJP agreed in principle that turnout should be increased and “missing voters” should get a chance to vote but the procedure to be adopted was a matter for discussion, and the Election Commission would decide after that.The leaders raised several issues — from electoral bonds to hate speeches and working of EVMs. They argued that electoral bonds lack transparency and kill the level playing field.Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who represented his party along with Praveen Chakravarty, told reporters after the meeting that the concept note prepared by the EC and the presentation given to the leaders showed the Commission was “confused”.“When there is no survey of migrant labour, they are providing facilities to migrant labour,” he said, raising concerns on how a remote voter would be identified.RJD’s Manoj Kumar Jha raised the issue of hate speeches. Without taking names, he said people have become Chief Ministers after delivering hate speeches while the EC has remained a mute spectator.AAP MP Sanjay Singh told The Indian Express that he raised questions on how the Model Code of Conduct would be followed for remote voters outside an election-bound state — and how parties, particularly smaller ones, would be able to appoint polling agents for multiple locations.“It is not practical. I suggested that the EC should give people four days of leave instead of one day to travel to their hometowns to vote. They can make travel on buses and trains free (for them),” he said.Among those who attended were Ramgopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, and TMC’s Kalyan Banerjee and Mahua Moitra.In its concept note sent to parties in December, the EC had said that the RVM had been developed by Electronics Corporation of India, a company under the Department of Atomic Energy, as a modified version of the existing Electronic Voting Machine.The RVM would be a stand-alone device, not connected to the internet. At one time, it would be able to handle 72 constituencies, and voters would be able to see the candidates for their home constituency using a code. Special remote voting polling stations would be set up in locations outside the constituency after the eligible voters register with the Returning Officer.Explaining the reason behind its proposal, the EC said that voter turnout had stagnated over the past few election cycles — 67.40 per cent in 2019 and 66.44 per cent in 2014. It said it was concerned that about 30 crore registered electors were choosing to skip the polls.

Most parties oppose remote voting plan, EC puts off demo
State govt will continue projects without central funds: Mamata
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

Accusing the Centre of discriminating against the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday asserted that the West Bengal government will continue with projects even if central funds are not released.Speaking at an administrative meeting at Sagardighi in Murshidabad district, the CM said, “We are number one in the implementation of the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scheme. We are running this scheme without central assistance.”Reacting to the frequent visits by central teams to the state for monitoring various schemes, Banerjee alleged that these teams were being sent to harass the state government. “These teams are not sent to Uttar Pradesh, Delhi or Gujarat. They send central teams here even if a firefly enters a state BJP leader’s house. They send NIA (National Investigation Agency) teams even if firecrackers burst here.”Warning the BJP-led central government, she said, “You (Centre) are acting like a hero since you are in the government. When you will not in the government, you will be a big zero. Do not forget that… you may send bulldozers to us, but we will not take revenge. We will change.”Reacting to the protests against Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders during the ‘Didir Suraksha Kavach’ programme, Banerjee said, “This is my project. If you have any problem, tell me. But don’t listen to slander. Apologise to people if someone makes a mistake.”After Sagardighi, the CM went to the SSKM hospital of Kolkata and talked to doctors and advised them to start a service like “Duare Sarkar” in the health sector.She also appealed to the junior doctors to go to villages to treat people.“Send teams to villages on a rotational basis. If not for longer periods, send junior doctors to remote areas for at least three-four days. They will benefit from this in their careers. Also, people in remote areas will benefit,” the CM said.She inaugurated several new projects and services at the hospital, including a 1.5 MRI unit at Police Hospital, a seminar hall for the radio therapy department, 10 ICUs at the head and neck surgery department and gangways.

State govt will continue projects without central funds: Mamata
Why it will take more than Bharat Jodo Yatra to revive Congress
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

The Bharat Jodo Yatra will culminate on January 30 in Srinagar, with a flag-hoisting ceremony on the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. By then, the Yatra, which began on September 7, 2022, would have traversed the length of the subcontinent from Kanyakumari to the Himalayas. The Yatra has undoubtedly enthused the Congress cadre and infused new life in a party that was deemed finished. More importantly, it has replaced the earlier “Pappu” image of Rahul Gandhi with that of a mature individual and credible political leader. His message of removing hate and introducing love between communities in the nation has made a mark, igniting much debate on social media. Even Rahul Gandhi’s detractors agree that the difficult Yatra has earned him the respect and support of people in areas where it has passed. Attempts by BJP leaders to criticise the Yatra and Rahul Gandhi have not achieved much success.The seminal question is whether the Yatra can bring electoral success for the Congress. While senior Congress leaders have said the aim of the Yatra is not to capture power, there is little doubt that unless this happens, the goal of social harmony would be difficult to achieve. This is because the Congress is the largest opposition party in the country with a footprint in many regions — out of 403 Lok Sabha seats it contested in the 2019 general election, it won 52 seats, came second in 196, and obtained 19.5 per cent of the vote. The Congress is the main opposition party in 12 states — Punjab, Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland. It is in direct contest with the BJP in seven states — Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand, which account for 102 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. Regional parties do not have a significant presence or strength at the national level. Without a rejuvenated and transformed Congress, the Opposition cannot hope to dent the BJP’s fortunes in these states in 2024. The AAP won just one seat in the Lok Sabha in 2019 and was ranked third in most constituencies. The TMC won 22 seats in 2019 compared to 34 in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections; the TRS won nine out of 17 seats compared to 11 in 2014. Opposition parties by not supporting/aligning with the Congress, where it is the major opposition force, will divide the anti-BJP vote.However, it is doubtful whether the Congress is capable of being the fulcrum of Opposition unity against the BJP in 2024. A party in decline since the late 1980s, it has three key problems: First, centralisation of power and decision-making at the top; second, organisational weakness; and third, lack of unity. Despite the election of a non-Gandhi as party president, the high command culture and the presence of the Gandhi family still continues — as a result of which decisions are taken at the top and local leaders are ignored. Elections to the Congress Working Committee have not been held for nearly 25 years, the last being in 1998. Organisationally, the strong federal structure of the party was destroyed by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s through centralisation and personalisation of power, creating a pyramidal decision-making structure. With the abandonment of the principle of representation, Congress committees and party offices were filled by appointment rather than through election. Centralisation of power led to dismemberment of the party at the grass roots.Without a clear line of leadership, factions have emerged that have destroyed the internal unity and coherence of the party. During the immediate post-independence period, factional groups provided the building blocks of the party ensuring a measure of internal democracy. Over the years factionalism has weakened the party leading to a loss of power. Being in office does not help, the party remains divided in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh between contending groups over the chief minister’s post. The G-23 group of senior leaders — who following a series of electoral defeats, demanded organisational reform and an inclusive and collective decision-making system — have further divided the party.The Yatra cannot reform the party. Yet there is an urgent need to do so as the Yatra does have a political thrust evident from the Congress inviting 21 “like-minded” political parties to join the concluding event in Srinagar. With this grand finale, the Congress hopes to make the Yatra a show of strength of the Opposition. The Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal United, Telugu Desam Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party and BSP are among those invited; the AAP has not been invited. But the prospects of Opposition unity or opposition parties uniting behind the Congress seem remote.Given the poor organisational condition of the party, opposition parties such as the AAP and TMC do not view the Congress or Rahul Gandhi as capable of providing leadership to an anti-BJP alliance. However, several ambitious contenders have emerged to lead the Opposition — from Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal to K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR). The Bharat Rashtra Samiti rally organised by Telangana Chief Minister KCR in Khammam on January 18 is aimed at creating a non-BJP, non-Congress, national alternative. The BRS rally is likely to be attended by leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal.Clearly the Bharat Jodo Yatra, although it has created enthusiasm among party cadre and hope among its leaders, despite its good intentions and success, by itself cannot revive the Congress. Against the backdrop of the achievements of the Yatra, the real work needs to begin after January 30. There is an urgent need for the Congress to unite under a strong leader and reinvent itself organisationally to carry the message of the Yatra to the masses if the party is to retrieve lost electoral ground.The writer taught at JNU

Why it will take more than Bharat Jodo Yatra to revive Congress
Yet more central teams in Bengal, TMC cries foul, calls them BJP proxy
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

For the past several months, the West Bengal government is facing a “central teams” problem. Investigative teams from the Centre have regularly been making forays into the state, following allegations of corruption made by the Centre against various departments of the state administration, often in tandem with the BJPs own “fact finding” teams, keeping the Mamata Banerjee-helmed TMC government on its toes.The TMC alleges the BJP has been using central investigators as political tools since 2019, when it won big in the Lok Sabha polls, and especially after the 2021 Assembly polls, in which it received a drubbing.In their latest foray, central teams have been inspecting allegations of “misappropriation of mid-day meal funds” in the run-up to the panchayat polls, a week after the BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the state, Suvendu Adhikari, wrote to Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, urging him to audit the state’s utilisation of funds for the Centre’s PM Poshan scheme.In a communication to the state government last Friday, the Union Education Ministry conveyed that a team of nutrition specialists and central government officers would be visiting the state to take stock of the implementation of the PM Poshan scheme, across 16 parameters.Earlier, on January 6-7, two central teams arrived in the state to look into allegations of irregularities in allotment of houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Discontent over PMAY allotment has been growing across West Bengal for close to a year now. The Centre has initiated action by withholding its share of funds in the scheme. The Centre and the state bear the cost of the scheme at a 60:40 ratio. As the first two central teams surveyed in East Midnapore and Malda districts, more central teams arrived in West Bengal to survey the details of PMAY lists in other districts of the state.Before that in 2021, just a week after the Assembly elections, the Centre sent teams of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Commission for Women (NCW) to probe post-poll violence, including alleged atrocities on women.Even during the Covid outbreak in 2020-2021, central teams visited Bengal over the TMC government’s perceived mishandling of the pandemic. And last November, the state BJP had demanded that a team of medical experts visit Bengal over a dengue outbreak.According to TMC leaders, it is a common tactic to remain relevant by the BJP as it doesn’t have a grassroots organisation in West Bengal. A senior leader of the BJP said, “It is obvious that we will try to gain political mileage from this. But you can’t deny the corruption of the TMC government at all levels of administration.”This is not the first time the Centre has been alleged to be using government investigators as proxy to influence West Bengal politics. During the Left regime, Mamata Banerjee, then the Rail Minister in the UPA 2 government, had forced the Centre to send a team to probe the violence in Nandigram and elsewhere.Expectedly, the TMC is now sharply criticising this “sending central team culture” of the BJP-led central government. TMC MP Sougata Roy said, “The idea is to irritate and vex the government and disturb its activities as much as possible. They won’t succeed in their attempt.”Another TMC leader, Kunal Ghosh, said, “The Centre can send as many teams as they want and try and spread as much disinformation they wish, but the people of Bengal would see through their motives. Their leaders, who have no connection with people and are trying to stay politically relevant by resorting to letter politics, will also be rejected.”BJP leader Rahul Sinha said, “If there was no corruption the central teams would not have come here.”Echoing his sentiments, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said, “TMC leaders at the helm of panchayats actually run the show on the ground. They are responsible for this corruption. What has TMC leadership done to stop it?”Senior CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “It is unfortunate that the Chief Minister is trying to hide the fact that there has been a huge corruption in the implementation of the scheme.”

Yet more central teams in Bengal, TMC cries foul, calls them BJP proxy
Opposition unites for January 16 meet, but Revolutionary Goans stays out
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

PANAJI: The state presidents of opposition parties –– Congress, AAP, NCP, Goa Forward, TMC and Shiv Sena –– came together on Saturday to declare their whole-hearted support to the public meeting to be held on January 16 under the ‘Save Goa, Save Mhadei’ banner in Sanquelim. Revolutionary Goans (RG) will not join the protest. The politicos said that despite government efforts to prevent the protest by cancelling the permission granted for the earlier venue in Sanquelim, the protest will go ahead. “Permission for the meeting venue was denied at the last minute. This shows the BJP government does not want the meeting to take place in Sanquelim (chief minister Pramod Sawant’s constituency). But this meeting will take place not only for Sanquelim but for people from across Goa,” said GFP president Vijai Sardesai.RG was the only one to not join the opposition in declaring support for the public meeting. Sardesai said that it proves that RGP is BJP’s B-team.“The chief minister himself has admitted that Karnataka has already begun diverting water from the Mhadei. The time has come to stand together against Karnataka. But a B-team has been formed to divert attention by saying they are having a campaign to create awareness about the issue. When water has already been diverted, what is the point of an awareness campaign at this late juncture,” said Sardesai.He said the BJP government at the Centre is trying to muffle opposition voices against Mhadei diversion in the interest of the upcoming elections in Karnataka.“The central government thinks Goans are susegad and that we will not raise our voices even if we are left to thirst for water. But we have raised our voices to stop the merger of Goa with Maharashtra in the past, and we will start this movement again on Opinion Poll day itself,” said Sardesai.Congress state president Amit Patkar and NCP president Jose Philip D’Souza said that if the Goa BJP government stands for the rights of Goan people, they should join the movement to save Mhadei on Monday.AAP’s Amit Palekar alleged that when the Goa CM-led delegation went to meet home minister Amit Shah, the Union minister was dismissive and said there is nothing to worry as Goans are not ones to hold massive protests.

Opposition unites for January 16 meet, but Revolutionary Goans stays out
Mamata asks KMC to start Ganga aarti at Babughat
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday directed the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to start Ganga aarti — similar to the one held in Varanasi — at Babughat in Kolkata beginning from the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda (January 12) on Thursday.“Babughat is going to be one of the most visited places in Kolkata. Such initiative can also be taken at Tarapeeth, Belur and Dakshineshwar,” said Banerjee addressing Gangasagar Mela devotees at Babughat.The Chief Minister also directed that the aarti should be performed only by those who know the rules.Asserting that Cyclone Yaas had destroyed everything at Sagar Island, but her government developed it again, Banerjee said, “There was nothing at Gangasagar, our (TMC) government brought about development after coming to power. Cyclone Yaas destroyed everything there (at Sagar Island), but we developed it again. We made helipads and guesthouses, made an arrangement for lights and built 1,000 bio-toilets. The island has been decorated.”Banerjee has recently urged the Center to declare the Gangasagar Mela as a national fair. “Kumbh Mela is connected by rail and roads, but Gangesagar cannot be reached by rail or road. Devotees need to cross the river. There are many obstacles, but all arrangements to reach the sea have been made,” she said.Encouraging devotees and the common people to visit Gangasagar Mela while seeking to ward off their fear of accidents there, Banerjee said, “No accident happens at the fair, so don’t listen to anyone’s false propaganda or negative words, only listen to what the government says or announces.” The CM also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of accident death victims at the mela.

Mamata asks KMC to start Ganga aarti at Babughat
Calcutta High Court: Lawyers at HC withdraw their protest against Justice Mantha
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

After two days of protests outside the courtroom of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha at Calcutta High Court over some of the orders passed by him, the protesting group of lawyers on Wednesday ended their agitation and withdrew their call for a boycott of the judge.The protest had sparked criticisms from judges and intervention by West Bengal Governor CV Anand Bose who directed the TMC government to “protect judiciary”.Justice Mantha had initiated contempt proceedings against the lawyers for disrupting work at his court and filed a suo motu petition against them which the Division Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj heard on Tuesday.On Wednesday, secretary of the Calcutta High Court Bar Association, Biswabrata Basu Mullick, appeared before Justice Mantha and assured him that such an incident would not be repeated in his court in future. Mullick requested Justice Mantha not to pass any ex-parte order in case of non-appearance of lawyers while assuring him that efforts are on to ensure normalcy in the court.Mullick also wrote a letter to Chief Justice Shrivastava claiming that a few advocates were trying to mislead the court on various issues for personal and political gain. He alleged that these few advocates were trying to spoil the healthy relationship between the Bar and the Bench. “His Lordship should not give importance to the misleading deliberation of the said learned advocates, doing this in order to achieve their personal as well as political gain,” PTI quoted him as writing to the Chief Justice.Earlier, members of the Bar Association of the High Court accused Justice Mantha of being biased and urged Chief Justice Shrivastava to relieve him from some of the cases.In a letter to the Chief Justice, the Bar Association members wrote: “A judge’s position of power not only demands discipline and ferocious insight but also becomes as extraneous as an appendage to the chair he sits upon, orphaned of this, which the arrangement of justice delivery considers to be essential. It is with great regret we must proceed to deliberate upon the actions of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha, who has perhaps fallen short of his usual standards in recent times… Let this representation record our humble request for your lordship to relieve Justice Rajshekhar Mantha from his current determination and liberate him from his current responsibilities.”The lawyers were agitating over some of the orders passed by Justice Mantha, including one passed in last December that gave protection to the Leader of Opposition in Assembly and BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari directing the state police not to register any more FIRs against him without the High Court’s permission.Justice Mantha had also stayed all the FIRs referred to in a petition by Adhikari, wherein he claimed that 26 FIRs had been registered against him in different police stations of the state to prevent him from performing his function as a people’s representative at the instance of the ruling dispensation in the state.Earlier, Justice Mantha had removed protection granted to Maneka Gambhir, the sister-in-law of TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee in a money laundering case.Meanwhile, Governor Bose reportedly sent a strong message to the state government asking it to “protect the judiciary”, and said that terrorising the judiciary will not be tolerated at any cost. It was learnt that the Governor had summoned the state chief secretary HK Dwivedi, state home secretary BP Gopalika and Kolkata Police Commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal late Tuesday evening and instructed them to ensure necessary protection for the judges.At the meeting, the state government officials assured the Governor that they would ensure the security and safety of the judiciary at any cost. – With PTI

Calcutta High Court: Lawyers at HC withdraw their protest against Justice Mantha
Only ‘thieves’ made contributions to Trinamool, alleges Suvendu
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

Questioning the reported 12-fold rise in the electoral bonds of the ruling party in a year, leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari on Tuesday alleged that only those involved in corruption paid to the Trinamool Congress in the form of electoral bonds.Speaking with reporters outside Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here, the BJP leader said, “There has been a twelve-time increase in the electoral bonds of TMC in a year. They have to show in their Income Tax return the names of industrialists and persons who made contributions. How did the party that had collected only Rs 42 crore through electoral bonds last year get Rs 528 crore this year?”Questioning the increase, Adhikari claimed, “I have the list of names who made donations to the party through electoral bonds. All those people are thieves.Soon I will share the list. People who run illegal sand mines, indulge in unethical activities and amass central funds are on that list.”The annual audit report of the TMC recently showed that its income from the electoral bonds rose from Rs 42 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 528.14 crore in 2021-22. The report released on Friday stated that out of the total income of Rs 545.74 crore of the TMC in 2021-22, as much as Rs 528.14 crore came from electoral bonds, which is 96 per cent of its total income.TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said, “The BJP leader himself is the biggest thief. He had once said the BJP party office was set up at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore. He is the biggest thief.”

Only ‘thieves’ made contributions to Trinamool, alleges Suvendu
BJP workers scuffle with police over Ganga Aarti programme in Kolkata
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

BJP workers scuffled with police personnel in Kolkata’s Babughat area on Tuesday after the party’s West Bengal unit president Sukanta Majumdar along with others took part in a Ganga Aarti programme even as they were denied permission to do so.The Kolkata Police had on Tuesday denied nod for the programme citing the rush of pilgrims for the ensuing Ganga Sagar Mela and the ongoing G20 meeting in the city.When the BJP workers were stopped at Baje Kadamtala Ghat, Majumdar performed aarti at a nearby ghat. When the police intervened, a major scuffle took place between them and the party supporters. A large number of police personnel were rushed to the spot and several BJP workers and leaders, including Majumdar, were taken to Lalbazar in a van.Majumdar said, “This is nothing new. We are used to it. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) doesn’t believe in democracy. They want to be in power as well as in Opposition.”Majumdar alleged the police even dismantled the stage set up for the programme.Convener of the BJP’s Namami Gange wing, Gopal Sarkar, had earlier said that Ganga Arti will be done as scheduled.The police had requested the opposition party to postpone the programme after the Gangasagar Mela. Earlier in the day, BJP councillor Sajal Ghosh and 12 others were detained around 1 pm when they went to see the preparations for the event.TMC’s social media incharge Debangshu Bhattacharya said, “We have seen as how three people lost their lives after BJP’s Suvendhu Adhikari held a programme in Asansol even as police denied them permission. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to initiate Ganga Aarti in Bengal and the Jagannath temple is being constructed in Digha. The BJP should first come and support these initiatives.”

BJP workers scuffle with police over Ganga Aarti programme in Kolkata
‘He is partial’: Bar members urge Calcutta Chief Justice to relieve judge
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

Accusing Justice Rajshekhar Mantha of being partial, members of the Bar Association of the Calcutta High Court urged Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava, requesting him to relieve him.In a letter to the Chief Justice, the Bar Association members wrote: “A judge’s position of power not only demands discipline and ferocious insight but also becomes as extraneous as an appendage to the chair he sits upon, orphaned of this, which the arrangement of justice delivery considers to be essential. It is with great regret we must proceed to deliberate upon the actions of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha, who has perhaps fallen short of his usual standards in recent times… We are of the unanimous opinion that something analogous to a collapse of the system we have largely held together in the higher pursuit of justice could follow if our voices were to remain silenced at the cusp of change.”The letter signed by Bar Association members read: “It is the consenting opinion of all members bar that we only have our staunch adherence to principles of natural justice, directed by your guidance as the sole available means to combat it. In its perfect world, words aren’t necessary for the times when the partiality of authority is understood to be apparent. Let this representation record our humble request for your lordship to relieve Justice Rajshekhar Mantha from his current determination and liberate him from his current responsibilities.”Earlier in the day, several lawyers allegedly affiliated with the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) gathered outside Justice Mantha’s courtroom and prevented him from continuing with the proceedings.According to sources, the lawyers prevented anyone from entering court hall 13, which is presided over by Justice Mantha. The proceedings of the court had to be stalled. The protest started around 10:25 am and continued past noon. There were reports of a scuffle too. Posters against Justice Mantha also came up near his residence in Jodhpur Park in Kolkata.It is to be noted that Justice Mantha on December 8 last year passed an order staying over 26 FIRs lodged against BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, and directed the state government to take the permission of the court before lodging any FIR against him in the future. Earlier, Justice Mantha had removed protection granted to Maneka Gambhir, the sister-in-law of TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee in a money laundering case.Speaking with The Indian Express, Deputy Solicitor General Billwadal Bhattacharya said he brought up the matter to the knowledge of the Chief Justice. “So far, determination pertaining to the roaster of cases are concerned, that is exclusively in the domain of Chief Justice. I think no one should have a say in this. I feel any form of interference is nothing but sheer criminal contempt affecting the course of justice,” Bhattacharya said.“It is happening rampantly. This cannot be tolerated,” he added.“Many of the lawyers carrying out the illegal protest are state-empanelled lawyers. Thereafter, a meeting between the bench and the stakeholders of the Bar Association and additional solicitor general and advocate general took place where a request was made to ensure that the protest is immediately withdrawn,” Bhattacharya added.

‘He is partial’: Bar members urge Calcutta Chief Justice to relieve judge
Fight over Netaji: For third year running, Trinamool and BJP wrangle over Bose
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

For the third year running, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is an issue that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP find themselves wrangling over in West Bengal.In the run-up to the West Bengal Assembly elections in 2021, the Centre announced that the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on January 23 will be observed as “Parakram Diwas (Day of Valour)”, leading the TMC and the Forward Bloc to accuse the Narendra Modi government of using Netaji as a political prop ahead of the Assembly elections.Last year, faced flak from the TMC after the state’s proposed Republic Day tableau was dropped. The proposed tableau was set to commemorate the contributions of Bose and his army on his 125th birth anniversary year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in a letter to Modi in which she urged that the government reconsider its decision. Later, in September, the PM unveiled a 28-ft Netaji statue at India Gate.This year will see Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat address a rally at Shahid Minar in Kolkata to pay tribute to Bose. This, BJP insiders feel, will help consolidate its position among the Bengali middle class that will prove to be a crucial electoral constituency in the Lok Sabha elections next year. The popularity of a pan-Bengal icon like Netaji is also something that the BJP hopes to benefit from ahead of the coming panchayat elections.Sources in the RSS said Bhagwat will be in West Bengal on a five-day tour beginning January 18 and the event on Netaji’s birth anniversary will also be attended by noted personalities from West Bengal and neighbouring states.But, non-BJP parties reacted to the news of Bhagwat’s visit with scepticism. TMC state vice-president Jayprakash Majumdar said, “In 2021, an event on the birth anniversary of Netaji was held at Victoria Memorial that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Everyone knew what had happened at that event. We have doubts about whether this event is being organised to pay respect to Netaji or get political dividends out of it ahead of the panchayat polls. It is also surprising to see Bhagwat attending this programme as RSS never showed respect to Netaji. They have always been an ardent follower of Veer Savarkar whom Netaji had refused to meet before Independence.”Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty targeted both the RSS and the TMC. “Mohan Bhagwat is free to come here and hold programmes. The RSS is growing in Bengal under the patronage of Mamata Banerjee. It is all well for the Sangh, but it is surprising to see them organising an event like this. The ideologies of Netaji and the RSS are poles apart. The RSS has always praised Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Netaji always was against Mukherjee. Then, how will Mohan Bhagwat talk about Netaji’s ideology? They are now glorifying Netaji to serve their political purposes.”Another senior CPI(M) leader said, “The BJP and the RSS are doing this not only for Bengal but also for our country as a whole. They want to propagate a ‘Hindu Netaji’ and posit his method of armed struggle in opposition to Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence. This is dangerous.”But dismissing the rivals’ concerns, a senior BJP leader said, “Netaji has made a place for himself as a model hero among Bengalis. Praising Netaji will benefit us as it will help us with Bengali Hindu voters. Because of Congress’s Gandhian attitude, Netaji’s place in Indian history was diluted. Narendra Modi and the BJP-RSS are trying to correct that. What is wrong with it?”BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “The Sangh is not at all a political outfit. It is above politics. The task of the Sangh is to build a strong and prosperous nation. They do this work through cultural nationalism. So, this is nothing related to politics.”

Fight over Netaji: For third year running, Trinamool and BJP wrangle over Bose
  • For third year running, Trinamool and BJP wrangle over Netaji
  • The Indian Express

    For the third year running, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is an issue that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP find themselves wrangling over in West Bengal.In the run-up to the West Bengal Assembly elections in 2021, the Centre announced that the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on January 23 will be observed as “Parakram Diwas (Day of Valour)”, leading the TMC and the Forward Bloc to accuse the Narendra Modi government of using Netaji as a political prop ahead of the Assembly elections.Last year, faced flak from the TMC after the state’s proposed Republic Day tableau was dropped. The proposed tableau was set to commemorate the contributions of Bose and his army on his 125th birth anniversary year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in a letter to Modi in which she urged that the government reconsider its decision. Later, in September, the PM unveiled a 28-ft Netaji statue at India Gate.This year will see Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat address a rally at Shahid Minar in Kolkata to pay tribute to Bose. This, BJP insiders feel, will help consolidate its position among the Bengali middle class that will prove to be a crucial electoral constituency in the Lok Sabha elections next year. The popularity of a pan-Bengal icon like Netaji is also something that the BJP hopes to benefit from ahead of the coming panchayat elections.Sources in the RSS said Bhagwat will be in West Bengal on a five-day tour beginning January 18 and the event on Netaji’s birth anniversary will also be attended by noted personalities from West Bengal and neighbouring states.But, non-BJP parties reacted to the news of Bhagwat’s visit with scepticism. TMC state vice-president Jayprakash Majumdar said, “In 2021, an event on the birth anniversary of Netaji was held at Victoria Memorial that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Everyone knew what had happened at that event. We have doubts about whether this event is being organised to pay respect to Netaji or get political dividends out of it ahead of the panchayat polls. It is also surprising to see Bhagwat attending this programme as RSS never showed respect to Netaji. They have always been an ardent follower of Veer Savarkar whom Netaji had refused to meet before Independence.”Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty targeted both the RSS and the TMC. “Mohan Bhagwat is free to come here and hold programmes. The RSS is growing in Bengal under the patronage of Mamata Banerjee. It is all well for the Sangh, but it is surprising to see them organising an event like this. The ideologies of Netaji and the RSS are poles apart. The RSS has always praised Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Netaji always was against Mukherjee. Then, how will Mohan Bhagwat talk about Netaji’s ideology? They are now glorifying Netaji to serve their political purposes.”Another senior CPI(M) leader said, “The BJP and the RSS are doing this not only for Bengal but also for our country as a whole. They want to propagate a ‘Hindu Netaji’ and posit his method of armed struggle in opposition to Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence. This is dangerous.”But dismissing the rivals’ concerns, a senior BJP leader said, “Netaji has made a place for himself as a model hero among Bengalis. Praising Netaji will benefit us as it will help us with Bengali Hindu voters. Because of Congress’s Gandhian attitude, Netaji’s place in Indian history was diluted. Narendra Modi and the BJP-RSS are trying to correct that. What is wrong with it?”BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “The Sangh is not at all a political outfit. It is above politics. The task of the Sangh is to build a strong and prosperous nation. They do this work through cultural nationalism. So, this is nothing related to politics.”

BJP is like Ganga, take a dip and wash away sins: Tripura CM tells Oppn leaders
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

Reaching out to Left leaders ahead of the Assembly elections, Tripura Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha Sunday said believers of the political ideology of Lenin and Stalin should join the saffron party to wash away their sins.“Our party is like River Ganga. We believe in the ideology of Pandit Deendayal ji. Those who still believe in the ideology of Lenin and Stalin, should join the BJP and take a dip into it to wash away their sins,” said Dr Saha while addressing a rally organised as part of the BJP’s ‘Jana Viswas Yatra’ at Kakraban in Gomati district Sunday. Saha’s comments attracted stringent criticism from Opposition parties that claimed the BJP was trying to lure leaders of other parties.Alleging that the erstwhile Left Front government ran a reign of terror, the chief minister said nearly 69 Opposition workers were killed in the South Tripura district alone during its tenure.Further, Saha launched a scathing attack on the Congress for its alleged closeness to once-rival Left. The chief minister also criticised the Trinamool Congress, claiming that it has proven to be more violent than the erstwhile Communist government in West Bengal.The chief minister alleged that former Soviet supremo Joseph Stalin killed more people than Hitler and the Communists followed a similar strategy of violence and terror in Tripura during their 25-year rule till 2018.

BJP is like Ganga, take a dip and wash away sins: Tripura CM tells Oppn leaders
Intolerance won’t last long in India, says Amartya Sen
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

An “atmosphere of intolerance” currently prevailing in India will not last long and that people will have to unite to fight against it, Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen on Sunday said.Interacting with students, teachers and research scholars during a programme organised by Pratichi Trust in Kolkata on his maternal grandfather Kshitimohan Sen’s concept of ‘Yukta Sadhana’ at the Amartya Sen Research Centre, the eminent economist said, “This situation will not last long. People are being beaten up if they don’t agree or simply do not listen to others. People will have to work together. Differences must be sorted out. We need to reduce the distances between us.”Asked by a seventh-grade student on the “benefits of a combined pursuit”, Sen quipped, “Is diversity always good? Of late, India has had diversity which was not there before. There is a need to look at both advantages and disadvantages of diversity.”Asked by a teacher as “how can we retain the country’s diversity”, the Nobel laureate reminded the audience of the words of Mahatma Gandhi. “Gandhi said during the initial phase of the struggle for Independence that we should reduce the distances between ourselves. Our ability to respect others is decreasing. And this is one of the reasons we are lagging behind,” he said.Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said, “We welcome his statement. He is actually criticising the situation wherein the BJP is dividing the entire country on the basis of religion, caste, gender and language.”CPIM state secretary Mohammad Salim said, “He expressed his understanding as a true thinker. The is a torchbearer of the tradition of pluralism and unity that India has carried from the likes of Rabindranath Tagore.”BJP leader Dilip Ghosh, however, said, “He is an economist. But did he say anything about the economy? Sen does not have to think about India which has now emerged strong globally. But yes, the situation in Bengal will not continue like this for long. Mr Sen should know that there will be a change here.”

Intolerance won’t last long in India, says Amartya Sen
TMC leaders pass the buck: ‘Faulty lists made by BDOs to embarrass govt’
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

Under fire over allegations of corruption in the allotment of houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), some senior Trinamool Congress leaders said it was the block development officers (BDOs) who prepared the faulty lists of beneficiaries in an attempt to embarrass their party’s government in West Bengal.Kalipada Mondal, the TMC MLA from Shyampur in Howrah district, said ineligible people were allotted houses under the scheme in collusion with administrative officials.“Government officials committed corruption to embarrass our party and government. Not all of us are honest as there are opportunists among us too. But government officials are doing all this to embarrass the government. If someone is answerable in this case, it has to be the BDO concerned. The lists were prepared by the BDOs,” he said.The MLA even suggested that instead of protesting in front of panchayat offices, the opposition parties should agitate at the BDO offices.Also, Aroop Chakraborty, the TMC MLA from Taldangra in Bankura district, blamed the BDOs for irregularities in the allotments under the scheme. “The BDO in my constituency will lose his job if owners of two-storey houses benefit from the scheme. I will lodge a complaint to get the BDO removed from the government post,” he said.Coming in support of Chakraborty’s statement, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, “There is nothing wrong in what he said. He is right. Everyone is blaming the Trinamool. These lists were prepared four years ago. The socio-economic situation of many people has changed in the meantime. The state government is trying to give houses to those who are actually poor.”Slamming the TMC on the issue, BJP leader Dilip Ghosh said, “The TMC is now trying to make the administrative officials a scapegoat in the scam. But they will not succeed in this.”In districts like North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Murshidabad and Malda, lists of beneficiaries were allegedly prepared by the ruling party by including the names families that were not eligible.

TMC leaders pass the buck: ‘Faulty lists made by BDOs to embarrass govt’
2 men held for suspected ISIS links raised funds to send to Syria: STF
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

The two men from Howrah arrested on Saturday over their alleged links with the terror outfit ISIS were raising money to send it to Syria, the Kolkata Police’s Special Task Force (STF) has said.The duo, identified as Mohammad Saddam (28), a mechanical engineering graduate who works with a Noida-based private firm, and his accomplice Sayeed Ahmed (30), had raised about Rs 30,000 for the purpose before being arrested, a senior officer claimed.The two accused were sent to 12-day police custody. Saddam was working from home for nearly two years, it is learnt. Officials said Saddam was first influenced by ISIS ideology through radical literature and videos and he then radicalised Sayeed, his childhood friend.“They used to communicate secretly through messaging platforms using coded language. Our investigation so far has revealed that they were raising money to send it to Syria,” STF Joint Commissioner of Police V Solomon Nesakumar said.“We suspect more people are involved in these activities and have got some leads in this regard.  We will get to the bottom of this as our investigation progresses,” another official said .Their laptops and mobiles have been recovered and will be examined thoroughly. The police are also trying to  find out if they have any Bangladesh links. They are also probing their alleged communication with their Pakistan-based handlers besides the possibility of their involvement in the procurement of explosives, recruitment of youths for radical activities.TMC, Opposition trade chargesMeanwhile, the arrest of the two suspected ISIS operatives has triggered a political blame game in the state.  CPIM leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “It is a cause of concern that Bengal is turning into a haven for such elements. The activities of terror outfits in have increased in the state.”BJP leader Rahul Sinha claimed that appeasement politics of the Mamata Banerjee-led government has led to such incidents in Bengal. “Every terror attack or bomb explosion have some Bengal connection. Such elements feel safe in the state.TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, “It is not new that Bengal is used as a passage by some terror operatives to travel to other places.”

2 men held for suspected ISIS links raised funds to send to Syria: STF
'Will I have to touch PM's feet?' No end to Centre-Bengal MNREGS dues tussle
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

AS THE BJP and Trinamool Congress trade charges over a Central team visit to West Bengal to check irregularities in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, heat has been rising over another Union government scheme in the state, ahead of its coming panchayat polls.December 26 marked a year since the payment of MNREGS dues to West Bengal were last cleared by the Centre, with the TMC government raising the issue repeatedly.Recently, the NREGA Sangarsh Morcha, which raises issues connected to the scheme, accused the Centre of withholding over Rs 7,500 crore of MNREGS funds to West Bengal. It added that non-payment of wages of those who took up work under the rural employment scheme was a violation of their fundamental rights.The Centre has cited “non-compliance of Central government directives” for withholding the funds. Targeting the Centre over this, founder member of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan Nikhil Dey also took up the matter, tweeting: “The Centre says the state is corrupt — so cut funds off! Who suffers?”Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising both the delay in payment of MNREGS as well as GST dues to the state.In a letter sent in May last year, Mamata sought the PM’s intervention for release of both MNREGS and PM Awas Yojana funds, adding: “In West Bengal, wage payment is pending for more than four months as Government of India is not releasing funds to the State to the tune of nearly Rs 6500 Crore-Rs 3000 Crore against wage liabilities and Rs 3500 Crore against non-wage liabilities.”In November, she said: “I personally met the Prime Minister and spoke to him on the matter. Will I have to touch his feet now?”The same month, West Bengal Panchayat Minister Pradip Majumdar met Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh in Delhi and, after the meeting, expressed hope of MNREGS funds being cleared soon. However, the money remains stuck.Majumdar told The Indian Express, “We have been asking for funds but the Centre is not keen to look into the matter.”The BJP said the TMC government was itself to blame for the delay, on account of “rampant corruption” and “mismanagement of funds”. “The Centre is ready to release funds. But first the state government has to give an account of the funds already released. If the state fails in this, why would the Centre send more funds?”The party said the people know “the truth”. “They know that TMC leaders and workers misuse the Centre’s funds. They even changed names of the Centre’s schemes and passed them as their own… But the Centre does not want to stall the development of the state, and we believe everything will be cleared in due time,” BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said.However, the matter is unlikely to be resolved soon. Asked why the Centre stopped the release of funds to Bengal, a Rural Development Ministry official said this was following reports of “irregularities” in the scheme’s implementation in the state. “Besides, the state government was not sending action taken reports. Despite several communications from the Centre, the state did not plug the leakages.”Asked when the pending dues of West Bengal would be cleared, the official said it depended upon compliance of rules by the state government.State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury accused both the TMC government and Centre of playing with the lives of people. “The Centre must clear the pending funds. The state also has to ensure that such funds are properly utilised. However, both are playing politics for own benefit ahead of the panchayat polls. We always say that the two parties have a tacit understanding,” Chowdhury said.The CPM also slammed the CPM and BJP, saying their politics had left hardworking people without their earnings. “It is due to the rampant corruption of the TMC government that we are witnessing this,” senior CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said.

'Will I have to touch PM's feet?' No end to Centre-Bengal MNREGS dues tussle
‘Duare Sarkar’ gets Centre’s award, considered best among 800
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

The Mamata Banerjee government has bagged the best performance prize from the Union government for its ‘Duare Sarkar’ programme.State Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya received the award from President Droupadi Murmu at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday morning.Mamata’s brainchild ‘Duare Sarkar’ programme won Platinum Award in the ‘Public Platform’ category of the 2022 ‘Digital India’ Awards as it has been considered the best among 800 projects in the country.The award was announced by the Narendra Modi government through a press release issued by the Union Ministry of Information and Technology.The recognition is considered significant as it came amid frequent clashes between the state and the BJP-led Centre on various issues, including the allocation of funds.According to Nabanna sources, the fifth phase of the ‘Duare Sarkar’ programme is currently underway. In all, it has had 3.6 lakh camps, and 6.6 crore people have received various government services under a single umbrella.Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also launched special ‘door-to-door government’ drive and mobile camps for the people of marginalised and tribal-dominated areas in the state.After receiving the prize, Bhattacharya said, “Bengal BJP criticises our government every day, but their government cannot deny our success and that is why they gave this platinum award.”TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, “We send ‘Duare Hatasha’ (Depression at doorstep) for the state BJP.”However, BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya said, “We will continue our protest against this government. Every day there is a bomb blast in the state. Besides, the state sank into corrupt practices. We will continue our protest against this.”

‘Duare Sarkar’ gets Centre’s award, considered best among 800
RSS chief set to attend Netaji birth anniversary programme in Kolkata
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

A war of words erupted among political parties after it was learnt that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who is set to visit West Bengal on a five-day tour beginning January 18, will attend an event at Shahid Minar on January 23 to pay tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.According to RSS sources, an event titled ‘Netaji Loho Pronam’ will be organised on the birth anniversary (January 23) of the freedom fighter, which Bhagwat will grace. Noted personalities from Bengal, as well as eastern India, will be present at the event which will be addressed by the RSS chief.The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) was quick to target the saffron camp for organising an event on Netaji.TMC state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar said, “In 2021, an event on the birth anniversary of Netaji was held at Victoria Memorial, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Everyone knew what had happened at that event. We have doubts about whether this event is being organised to pay respect to Netaji or get a political dividend out of it ahead of the panchayat polls. It is also surprising to see Bhagwat attending this programme as RSS never showed respect to Netaji. They are always an ardent follower of Veer Savarkar whom Netaji had refused to meet before Independence. Now, it is interesting to find out why they are suddenly showing so much respect for Netaji. Maybe it is happening because of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Had Netaji been alive, he would have felt insulted to see RSS paying respect to him.”Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty, too, criticised the RSS over the development.“Mohan Bhagwat is free to come here and hold programmes. RSS is growing in Bengal under the patronage of Mamata Banerjee. It is all well for the Sangh, but it is surprising to see them organising an event like this. The ideologies of Netaji and the RSS are poles apart. Will Mohan Bhagwat talk about Netaji’s ideology during the event?” wondered Chakraborty. RSS spokespersons, however, refused to respond to the criticism.According to RSS state general secretary Jishnu Basu, their leaders will speak on this issue on another day by holding a press meeting.Speaking on the issue, BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “Mohan Bhagwat’s itineraries were prepared at least one year ago. Therefore, his coming to West Bengal and attending such programmes were planned much ahead. Unfortunately, here we indulge in politics in everything. RSS is not a political outfit, and that’s why criticism does not arise.”

RSS chief set to attend Netaji birth anniversary programme in Kolkata
Nandigram Martyrs’ Day turns into political slugfest, Kunal Ghosh, and Suvendu Adhikari trade barbs
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

January 7 has always been an important day for the Trinamool Congress (TMC) ever since it came to power in West Bengal. On this day, the party remembers the martyrs who died while resisting the erstwhile CPI(M)-led government’s attempt to acquire land to set up a chemical hub in Nandigram.It was no different this time, except, ever since Suvendu Adhikari has joined the BJP and holds his programme separately, the Martyrs’ Day has turned into a political slugfest.On Saturday, while TMC leader Kunal Ghosh and the others paid their tributes to the martyrs in Nandigram, barely 100 metre away, Adhikari too paid his tributes to those who died in the protest. Although separate events, both the programmes were held under the banner of the Bhumi Uchchhed Protirodh Committee (BUPC) — a committee set up to oppose the acquisition of land.Talking at the event Saturday, Ghosh said, “Suvendu Adhikari has no moral right to offer garlands at the Shaheed Bedi because those who had protested against the forceful acquisition, are on this stage. Those who had fired bullets at us are now with Adhikari and have joined the BJP.” He also said that the CPI(M) had filed false cases against those who had protested.Ghosh further claimed that Adhikari has used Nandigram for his political interests. “He has used the blood of the martyrs for his own career,” Ghosh alleged.In a counter attack aimed at Ghosh, Adhikari said, “You are seeing those leaders who have no contribution to the Nandigram movement.” He also claimed that there is no political or religious boundary in the observance of Martyrs’ Day.Adhikari, without naming anybody, said, “People who had no connection with the movement are pocketing the benefits of the movement. They are doing so to maintain their political existence. But they will not be successful.”Interestingly, BJP leader Dilip Ghosh mocked both the leaders and said, “All leaders have now forgotten the martyrs. They are only playing politics in the name of the martyrs.”Replying to Ghosh’s claim, CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “Filing false cases was never the practice of the CPI(M), it is a practice of the TMC.” On January 7, 2007, at Nandigram’s Bhangabera, 14 villagers who were a part of the BUPC were killed by miscreants suspected to be hand in gloves with the then ruling CPI(M).

Nandigram Martyrs’ Day turns into political slugfest, Kunal Ghosh, and Suvendu Adhikari trade barbs