West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s asking her Trinamool Congress leaders last week to refund ‘cut money’ or illegal commissions allegedly received by them to help people avail the benefits of government’s social welfare schemes has put the party in a difficult situation. The issue figured in the state legislative assembly where opposition Left Front and Congress legislators staged a walkout on Monday and Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan demanded the formation of a commission to refund ‘cut money’.
Since Mamata’s instruction on June 18 on the "cut money" issue, Trinamool leaders at panchayats and urban civic bodies are facing growing public resentment by the people seeking such refunds. There have also been reports of cases of assault on some Trinamool leaders and demonstration in front of their houses.
Some Trinamool leaders are also being asked to give in writing that they would refund the “cut money”. These incidents have been reported from the districts of Hooghly, Uttar Dinajpur, Malda, Alipurduar, Birbhum, East Burdwan, West Burdwan and West Midnapore. Mamata’s directive to party leaders to return “cut money” came at a meeting with Trinamool leaders in Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
As the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to mount a state-wide campaign on the issue of refund of “cut money,” Trinamool leaders accused the saffron party of orchestrating many of the attacks on their leaders. “A campaign is going on to brand all public representatives as corrupt. But there are only one or two per cent of the public representatives of our party who have done this. The administration has taken action against them and will continue to do so in future,” said Municipal Affairs Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim. Hakim said a toll-free helpline has been launched by the city civic body to help the public with lodging their complaints against those who take “cut money.”
The BJP has decided to launch a campaign to demand the return of “cut money” from Trinamool leaders by visiting their houses in a peaceful way. We will take the people along with us who have given commissions to such leaders. We will bring them face-to-face. We will ask them to refund the money. We will videotape the visits as proof that we are not using force. We will do the job of government officials,” according to state BJP youth wing chief Debjit Sarkar. It may be recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during campaign for parliamentary elections earlier this year, had accused Trinamool Congress of imposing Trinamool Tolabaji Tax” in Bengal.