The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buy or sell, but through the party

Calcutta, Feb. 8: The Party has made its entry — as the dishonest broker — in the fastest developing area of south Calcutta, east of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass in the Mukundapur-East Jadavpur belt.

No one can now sell or buy land in the area without the permission of the Nagarik Committee, a CPM front. Till this morning, signboards — warning prospective buyers “not to buy land without permission from the Nagarik Committee” — used to dot the area.

They were removed at the local CPM leadership’s instance after The Telegraph asked uncomfortable questions the day before. Nevertheless, the diktat — now unwritten — is obeyed as it was done when it was stated.

Though the local CPM leadership wanted to give the impression that it was not interested in deals involving land, it admitted that it did get involved “in disputes”. “The allegations are baseless,” CPM East Jadavpur local committee secretary Swapan Ray said. “But to maintain peace in the area, we step in if all parties in a dispute ask for our counsel,” he added.

But goings-on suggest that the party goes much further than this. Take the case of DG (initials used on request), who wanted to buy a piece of land in the area. When he was in the process of leaving after spotting the uninviting signboards, he was approached by a broker. The broker took DG to the Nagarik Committee leadership. Everything was then “done” by the party front and the deal was cemented in no time, courtesy the “percentage” it got.

According to real estate sources, the price of land in the area has shot up, especially after the announcement of the extension of Metro Railway (to Garia) and the construction of a network of roads feeding off the bypass.

A cottah of land near the bypass now sells at anything between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 2.5 lakh. A little off the bypass, the price is a shade lower. The spurt in prices has attracted the attention of dubious brokers and the party.

If even 5 per cent of what a deal is worth falls into its lap, the party — or the men who work for it — are richer by eight-digit figures every year.

A CPM leader said the intervention was not unhealthy initially. “Many in the party used to respond to pleas for help,” he said. “Now it’s an open secret that the party has — to an extent — lost control over its cadre.”

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