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Since 1st March, 1999
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Toppled, Left leaders told to show accounts

Krishnagar, May 25: New Trinamul Congress gram panchayat and panchayat samiti members in Nadia have been accused of forcing outgoing chiefs and block officials to furnish documents even before they have taken the oath of office.

The new members mostly want to see papers related to the master roll of workers engaged in the 100-day work scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, foodgrain allocation for below-poverty-line people and payment of contractors engaged in road construction.

At Deuli in Chakdah, 70km from Calcutta, a band of new members barged into the office of the outgoing CPM panchayat pradhan Pritilata Roy this morning.

The village body had been in the CPM’s control for 30 years.

Roy said the Trinamul leaders asked her to furnish details of many ongoing projects and hand over the documents relating to them. “When I told them that I am not supposed to do that, they thumped my table and threatened me that they would take action against me after the oath-taking,” Roy said.

The Deuli panchayat chief lodged a complaint with the block development officer, who forwarded it to the district magistrate.

Roy said the Trinamul leaders told her that they had every right to the documents as they had won the elections. “I told them I would hold office till they take oath in the middle of June,” she added.

Several panchayat functionaries have lodged official complaints against such demands.

District magistrate Onkar Singh Meena said it was illegal to make such demands before being sworn in. “They cannot ask for documents or intervene in the functioning of the rural bodies. I have asked all political parties to rein in their over-enthusiastic new members and ask them not to disturb and humiliate the outgoing chiefs of panchayat bodies or district officials,” Meena said.

The swearing-in is unlikely to take place before mid-June as preparing the gazette notification for nearly 50,000 elected representatives is time- consuming.

An official said the panchayat papers could bring to the open political bias and corruption in village bodies.

At Haringhata, the situation was worse for panchayat samiti president Biswanath Pandey. “On Friday, the Trinamul members hurled abuses at me and asked me to hand over to them all papers and documents. When I refused, they went to the BDO after hurling more abuses at me,” he said.

Here, too, the CPM lost for the first time in three decades.

When the Trinamul leaders asked block development officer D.P. Chakraborty for the papers, the BDO called his boss, Meena, who asked him not to yield to pressure.

Nadia Trinamul president Naresh Chaki said the matter was being blown out of proportion. “Our members might have gone to learn something or check for irregularities.”

In some cases, a Nadia official said, CPM members are giving it back.

At Panshila in Nabadwip, a group of CPM leaders demanded accounts from the outgoing Trinamul chief.

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