Kolkata : As Bengal goes to the polls, the issue of corruption has taken center stage in the election campaign for the first time since Independence.
Post Saradha scam in which lakhs of investors had been duped and Narada sting operation, which has purportedly shown some leaders of TMC accepting bribes, the issue of corruption has evolved as the main poll plank for the Congress-Left Front alliance, apart from “restoration of democracy” in TMC ruled Bengal.
The six-phase election will begin in West Bengal tomorrow.
“Never before has there been a such a corrupt government in power. During emergency we had fought against the Siddharth Shankar Ray government on the issue of restoration of democracy and democratic rights. But there was never ever such a huge scale corruption by leaders of ruling TMC,” CPI(M) state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra told PTI.
“Saradha sacm to Narada sting operation, corruption is a major issue in this poll. Restoration of democracy, unemployment are there but corruption is the biggest issue as people of Bengal are fed up with the corrupt government. Have you ever seen a Bengal minister arrested for involvement in corruption,” Mishra said, referring to former state sports Minister Madan Mitra, who is behind bars after he was arrested by CBI for his alleged involvement in Saradha scam.
Elections in Bengal since Independence have always been fought on the basis of ideologies, policies of the government, restoring rights of the opposition parties, development, industrialization, unemployment and food security. But never before there have been large scale allegations of corruption against the present government.
The Trinamool Congress has countered the allegations of corruption by stating that Saradha scam is the “sin” of the erstwhile Left Front regime and Narada sting operation is a ‘doctored sting’ to malign TMC before polls.
“Chit Funds like Saradha are sins of erstwhile Left regime, it is our TMC government which has shut down those Ponzi firms and arrested their bosses. And the sting operation is a doctored video to malign us. TMC is the most honest political party in the country,” TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said.
Remarks by veteran TMC MP and former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, who had prescribed that party colleagues purportedly caught in the scandal should “sit at home” till they “come out clean” in a probe, have brought out the contradictions within TMC over Narada sting out in open. dimension to the Bengal politics and added to the woes of TMC.
That the issue of corruption has taken a center stage can be gauged from the fact election rallies and political wall writings have been marked with campaigns, slogans and counter slogans on corruption.
The recent flyover collapse, which had claimed 26 lives, too has raised the issue of corruption on the state PWD department.
State Congress president Adhir Chwodhury, who has been going hammer and tongs against the TMC government, has demanded immediate probe and arrest of ministers and TMC leader involved in the flyover scam.
“In Saradha, the TMC had claimed that the Chit Funds have started during Left regime. But what about Madan Mitra and TMC MPs being behind bars on the issue of corruption. The Narada sting and the collapse of the flyover itself has proved that the entire TMC is involved in corruption. The people of Bengal have never ever witnessed such a huge level of corruption,” Chowdhury alleged.
TMC vice president Partha Chatterjee, however, refuted allegations of corruption and claimed that the opposition has run out of issues and was trying to malign TMC.
“They are trying to malign the TMC and they are out of issues as there has been so much of developmental work throughout Bengal in the last five years,” Chatterjee told PTI.
The Trinamool Congress is highlighting various social security projects such as ‘Kanyashree’ (aimed at stopping marriages of minor girls and inspiring them to complete school education) and ‘Khadya Sathia’ (providing subsidized food grain at Rs. 2 a kilo to a large section of the population), scholarships, bicycles for girl children, to counter the allegations by the opposition.