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Anubrata cash candy

March 12: Birbhum Trinamul chief Anubrata Mondal today promised cash rewards to party committee heads in whose areas the district’s Lok Sabha poll candidates secure the maximum victory margins, claimed party leaders who attended a closed-door session where the assurance was apparently given.

According to the Trinamul leaders and activists who attended the party workers’ meeting at the Gitanjali auditorium in Bolpur, Mondal said the cash incentives would be Rs 1 lakh at the panchayat level and Rs 5 lakh each at the block and municipal levels.

When reporters asked Mondal after the meeting if he had made such a promise, he declined comment. Election Commission officials said they would “wait and watch” as nobody had complained against Mondal and the panel did not have evidence of the leader announcing cash incentives. A Trinamul leader who was present at the meeting quoted Mondal as saying: “The two party committees at the block and municipality levels that will ensure the highest margin for our candidates will be rewarded Rs 5 lakh each. The committee at the panchayat level will be awarded Rs 1 lakh.”

The Trinamul leader said on condition of anonymity that Mondal, an accused in a case of murder that followed a provocative speech he gave before last year’s panchayat polls, today instructed party workers to “work hard and ensure the victory of the two party candidates from Bolpur and Birbhum”.

While Satabdi Roy is the Trinamul candidate for Birbhum, Anupam Hazra is contesting from Bolpur.

Satabdi, who attended the meeting, said: “After the announcement of the incentives, I hope workers and leaders will work with greater zeal.”

Asked if such promise amounted to violation of the model code of conduct, Election Commission sources said: “First of all, we are yet to be informed of this officially. Second, we don’t know if there was a public announcement. If the announcement was made before party workers behind closed doors, there is not much the commission can do in the absence of a complaint.”