Mamata. Picture by Sanjoy Ghosh
Calcutta, March 9: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today put on notice government employees allegedly maligning the government, citing three instances that affected everyday life and suggesting that even police are not insulated from political subterfuge.
The message is being seen as aimed at the CPM and the employees’ organisation the Left party has backed for years. Mamata indicated that the recent services bill was also aimed at CPM cadres in government service.
At a meeting of the Trinamul-backed United State Government Employees’ Federation, the chief minister said the government was drawing up a list of employees who were allegedly spreading canards against the government.
“We are preparing a list of such employees. The process of identifying them has started. Apart from the official channels, I have a personal network. I get reports of who is doing what,” Mamata told the government employees at Netaji Indoor Stadium.
She listed three examples of how the “CPM cadres in the government” were “working against the administration”.
“There are employees in medicine shops at government hospitals who are telling patients’ relatives that medicines are not available. They are saying that this is happening because the government the people voted to power is not delivering,” she said.
The next case in point was that of a traffic police sergeant. “The sergeant demanded a fine of Rs 4,000 from a couple and said they had to pay this because of the government. He is a direct comrade. They are the CPM cadres. We will correct this,” Mamata said.
The chief minister then moved on to an official in the land and land reforms department who had allegedly asked for Rs 30,000 as cess from villagers for digging ponds under the state government’s Jal Dharo, Jal Bharo scheme.
“He asked poor villagers to pay Rs 30,000 as cess. The government is not demanding any cess. We have abolished that” she said. “This is what I call spreading canards against the government.”
Mamata did not say where she got these three complaints from or what action she was contemplating against the accused. Officials at Writers’ Buildings, however, said the three examples were based on complaints that the chief minister’s office had received from “members of the public”.
“The chief minister has got the complaints verified by her officials and identified the persons involved,” an official said. “We are now waiting for instructions from her to initiate action against the accused.”
He added that no such list of employees who “were saying wrong things” about the government had yet been drawn up.
However, one list the government has prepared is of those employees who did not turn up for work during the February 20 strike called by the trade unions, including Citu.
Mamata made it clear that the proposed West Bengal Lok Parisheba Bill, 2013, would ensure that government employees rendered proper services to the public.
She said the bill was being brought keeping “the CPM cadres in government service” in mind.
“We needed the bill because of the CPM cadres. A commission will be set up to probe complaints against officials who refuse to provide service to the people. There will be safeguards to ensure that there is no harassment,” Mamata said.
The bill is likely to be placed in the on-going budget session.
A senior government official said pro-Trinamul employees could easily pass on information to higher officials about any “non-cooperation” by other employees who might have Leftist leanings and that complaint against them could easily find their way to the commission once the new bill came into effect.
Mamata’s reference to canards has also fuelled speculation if the government is exploring options against employees passing on information that paints the administration in a poor light.
Existing service rules provide for scope of punishment if officials pass on directly or indirectly information classified as confidential.