The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha blunts Citu shock treatment

Calcutta, Feb. 26: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today told the Citu leadership, which had levelled a series of allegations against the power department, that he disbelieved the union’s charges of corruption against top officials.

“Let me emphatically say that the government has full faith in the bureaucrats you have mentioned in the memorandum. They are executing the government’s policies to the last letter, and are not the ones to easily depart from them,” Bhattacharjee was quoted as telling the Citu leaders.

The Citu leaders had complained about power secretary Kalyan Bagchi and the chairman of the West Bengal State Electricity Board, Sanjay Mitra.

It is learnt that the chief minister’s observation was based upon the support extended by the CPM leadership.

But political considerations linked to the impending general elections forced Bhattacharjee to tread a middle path at the meeting.

Mediating at the one-hour meeting, which was also attended by power officials, Bhattacharjee also sought to smooth the ruffled feathers of the Citu, assuring its leaders their opinion would be heard.

The meeting took place at the chief minister’s chamber in the Assembly and had as its backdrop the bombshell the Citu dropped a week ago. The union had alleged that the power sector was the victim of corruption by a section of the bureaucracy.

Party insiders said the real targets were Bhattacharjee’s reforms programme, power minister Mrinal Banerjee, also a vice-president of state Citu, and finance minister Asim Dasgupta.

Bureaucrats like Bagchi and Mitra found mention in the Citu’s chargesheet as they were perceived to be the arrowheads of the power reforms programme.

The closed-door meeting had minister Banerjee, Bagchi and Mitra representing the supporters of the reforms. Ranged on the other side were state Citu president Shyamal Chakraborty and the WBSEB Workmen’s Union working president, Prasanta Nandi Chaudhuri.

The trade union hinted after the meeting that the last word has not been spoken yet.

Claiming victory for the union, Chakraborty said: “The chief minister has assured us that our allegations will be looked into by March 31.” However, quizzed about the specifics of the probe, he fell silent.

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