Trinamul members of Sagardighi panchayat samiti enter the inspection bungalow of PWD in Behrampore on Sunday. Picture by Chayan Majumdar
Behrampore, Aug. 25: Trinamul has kept its 16 victorious candidates of a Murshidabad panchayat samiti at a PWD bungalow in Behrampore since August 22 fearing that the Congress and the CPM could influence them to vote against the ruling party while forming the board.
The lone Trinamul MLA from Murshidabad and food processing minister, Subrata Saha, has booked four of the five rooms at the inspection bungalow till the voting on August 30 for the 16 victorious candidates, 10 of whom are women.
Of the 33 seats in the Sagardighi panchayat samiti, Trinamul has bagged 16. The Congress has won nine seats while the CPM seven and the Forward Bloc one. If the CPM and the Congress come together and influence any of the Trinamul elected members or the lone Forward Bloc winner, the combine would gain the majority.
Sources said the Forward Bloc winner had gone into hiding.
“We have kept our elected members at the inspection bungalow to prevent other political parties from influencing them and taking them into their fold,” a Trinamul leader said in the Congress-stronghold.
In Murshidabad, there are 26 panchayat samitis to be formed. The Left is set to get 11 while the Congress 9, sources said, adding that Trinamul might form the lone board in Sagardighi as five are hung.
Keeping elected members in a “safe house” before formation of rural boards is a common practice, sources said.
Earlier this month, Congress leaders in Murshidabad’s Hariharpara had allegedly confined 11 victorious gram panchayat candidates to a “safe house” and had confiscated their cellphones fearing Trinamul would try to buy some of them off to form the board.
In Sagardighi, too, the mobile phones of the 16 elected members have been taken away. PWD officials termed the minister’s move to book rooms at the bungalow “unethical”, while clarifying there is no rule against a senior politician booking rooms at an inspection bungalow and keeping elected panchayat samiti members there.
“PWD inspection bungalows are meant for ministers and government officials on visits. But a minister booking four rooms to use the bungalow as a safe house for the panchayat samiti winners is unethical,” a PWD official in Murshidabad said.
Minister Saha said keeping winners confined before the formation of rural boards is “nothing new”.
“All political parties are doing this,” he said.
Asked if he found blocking the four rooms unethical, Saha said: “If we can board trains paying money or stay in tourist lodges, why should it be unethical for people to stay in the inspection bungalow?” In all, Rs 90 is charged for a room daily at the inspection bungalow.”