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Angry at minister, Bloc leader set to quit politics

Malda, Dec. 2: Disappointed with the performance of his own party’s agricultural marketing minister, former Forward Bloc MLA Biren Moitra, who held the same post earlier, has decided to retire from politics.

The former minister said he has already informed his party of the decision and will soon write to Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh.

“During my time, the agricultural marketing department had created a regulated market society in Englishbazar but that has not started functioning even now. The ones that existed in the other districts have become moribund,” Moitra said today.

The veteran leader’s grouse was aimed at incumbent Chhaya Ghosh. “I have told my party several times how Ghosh has virtually stopped all the initiatives I had taken to build up a proper marketing set-up, but nothing has happened,” he alleged.

Moitra said he was disgusted with his party for ignoring all his entreaties. “I have resigned from all the posts I held in the party and given up my membership of the state committee. Now, I have decided to withdraw from politics altogether.”

“More than 100 unemployed youths bought stalls after securing bank loans for the Englishbazar regulated market. They are now paying the interest and virtually leading a hand-to-mouth existence as the government has still not handed over the stalls,” Moitra alleged.

Secretary of the market Benoy Poddar said the department did not have the funds to run the regulated market. “We need to have a drainage system, a transformer to generate power and a boundary wall. The stall owners have said they will not move in till these amenities are in place,” Poddar pointed out.

The market’s foundation stone was laid in 1991 by minister Kalimuddin Shams.

“At the foundation-stone-laying ceremony, it was announced that the regulated market would be completed in two years. Since then, Rs 7 crore has been spent and yet it is not functional,” Moitra added. He, however, did not say why things did not mature in the five years that he was minister.

Members of the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce said the Englishbazar-regulated market checkpost collected over Rs 1 crore each year. “Rs 10 crore was collected in the past 10 years. Yet, none of the stalls is ready,” said chamber secretary Jayanta Kar.

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