Staff in state BJP office unpaid for two months
The Bengal unit of the BJP got into a damage control mode on Sunday when it emerged that 20 persons employed at the state party headquarters in Calcutta did not get salaries for over two months.
The employees are drivers, who ferry state leaders to different parts of the state, and sweepers and caretakers involved in the upkeep of the office on 6 Muralidhar Sen Lane. Some of the employees, party sources said, have association with the office since the Bharatiya Jana Sangh days.
“Most of the staffers were given their salaries in February and since then, they haven’t been paid. A few of them had even called up some office-bearers of the BJP pleading for their salaries. But their pleas weren’t taken seriously,” said a state BJP leader.
Saptarshi Chowdhury, media in-charge of the BJP, on Sunday issued a statement, saying all the employees had been getting their salaries.
His statement added further fuel to the fire and Sayantan Basu, one of the general secretaries of the state BJP, sought to clear the air. “There have been some delays and that’s because banks weren’t working properly during the lockdown. Even when the money was transferred, many of our employees couldn’t withdraw it,” he said.
The two versions from the BJP — first a denial of the charge of the non-payment of salaries by Chowdhury and then the admission by Basu — added to the confusion, said a state BJP leader, who was upset with the handling of the employees and the party office.
“The Prime Minister had asked all employers to make regular payments to their employees, but we didn’t do it in Bengal… Besides, I know that at least two of the employees don’t even have bank accounts, which is a shame as we brag about the success of the Jan Dhan account scheme,” said the leader.
He said cable connection bills hadn’t been cleared either and it hinted at mismanagement in the BJP state headquarters.
Pratap Chatterjee, one of the general secretaries and in-charge of the office, was not available for comments.
The Telegraph spoke to two employees in the party office and both of them said they had been paid February’s salary, but nothing thereafter. “We couldn’t even recharge our mobile phones. A few leaders made calls to BJP workers in our area and they went to our homes with help,” one of the unpaid employees said.
When state BJP president Dilip Ghosh reached the party office for the first time on Saturday afternoon since the lockdown came into effect, some of the employees approached him with a plea to look into the issue of non-payment of salaries. “We have been told our dues will be cleared. But the question is when,” another employee said.