The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM’s stock-taking trip

Behrampore, Sept. 14: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today rapped party managers in Murshidabad for their failure to retain the zilla parishad.

“Fan out to the people,” he reportedly told the leaders, urging them to build mass contact and strengthen the organisation.

Much to the embarrassment of the Alimuddin Street mandarins, the CPM lost the zilla parishad to the Congress in the May panchayat polls for the first time in two-and-a-half decades.

On a day’s visit to the district, Bhattacharjee addressed a marathon meeting of CPM district committee members. The replacement of ailing secretary Madhu Bag also figured in the deliberations.

The chief minister, however, declined to comment on the talks after the meeting. When reporters insisted on his comment on the possible changes in the organisation, he said: “We discussed flood, pulse polio and some other things.”

Party insiders said the minutes of the day-long meeting were sent to the state committee for its approval. “We shall be able to brief you about our course of action only when we get a green signal from Calcutta,” one of them said.

Sabhadhipati of the zilla parishad and senior Congress leader Siddika Begum called on Bhattacharjee this morning.

The seven-page memorandum she submitted to the chief minister alleged that the previous CPM-controlled-board did not pay dues amounting to Rs 51 crore to contractors. “How is it possible for the present board to pay the dues incurred by the outgoing parishad'” she asked Bhattacharjee.

She requested him for a special audit to check the accounts of the previous parishad.

Siddika said: “There are 114 permanent posts in the parishad offices but 135 people were given appointment as casual workers by the previous board. This goes against rules. There is an acute financial crisis following an embargo on expenditure by the finance department. How will we pay the salaries of such a huge number of employees'”

She also complained to Bhattacharjee about the “abnormally large” number of teachers in schools run by the zilla parishad.

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