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‘Diktat-forced’ resignations stall rural work

Ghatal, Feb. 27: Development work at a CPM-run panchayat in West Midnapore has been stalled after the chief and his deputy resigned because of alleged Trinamul pressure to follow the ruling party’s diktats.

“We were under tremendous pressure to follow the directives of local Trinamul leaders. We found it difficult to carry out any development work or implement projects under the 100-day rural job scheme,” said Mrityunjay Chakraborty, who resigned as the pradhan of the Sultanpur panchayat on January 31.

The deputy chief, Raj Kumar Das, put down his papers in the middle of February.

Work under several schemes in the panchayat, which has 50 villages under it, has been put on hold for the past one month.

Panchayat officials said projects worth Rs 70 lakh under the 100-days rural job scheme were the worst-hit. “Villagers have been forced to wait for days to get SC/ST certificates. Cheques for contractors are piling up in the absence of a signatory,” an official said.

Asked about the alleged Trinamul diktats, Chakraborty said: “Panchayat schemes are decided in the village council meetings. There is no alternative. After Trinamul came to power, its local leaders have been intervening in every scheme. They often dictate who the beneficiaries of the Indira Awaas Yojana will be.”

A CPM leader in West Midnapore said the party could not flout rules and sanction money for anybody “just to please the leaders”.

The former panchayat chief said a Rs 15-lakh project to provide piped drinking water to around 2,500 people had to be abandoned because of “Trinamul intervention”.

“We had plans of catering to 25,000 people in the future. Work had started and the survey completed. But the Trinamul leaders opposed the scheme and we had no other option but to abandon the project,” Chakraborty said.

“Things had become unbearable because the Trinamul leaders were telling us when to come to office and when to leave. Initially, I had lodged verbal complaints with block development officer (BDO) Debabrata Roy. On January 31, I submitted my resignation to him in writing,” Chakraborty added.

Upa-pradhan Raj Kumar Das said he had tried “to carry on for the sake of development”. But he also resigned in the middle of February since he could not act “freely”.

BDO Roy said all development work had come to a halt after the resignations of the pradhan and the upa-pradhan. “I will convene a meeting of the other panchayat members and try to select a pradhan from among them so that the development projects can be completed,” he said.

The Trinamul secretary of Ghatal block, Dilip Majhi, said: “The CPM is making false allegations against us. The pradhan and the upa-pradhan resigned because the panchayat elections are drawing near and they are scared of facing the people, who know about their corrupt practices.”