Ahead of Bengal Polls, Mamata Banerjee Strives for 'New TMC', to Oversee Govt Projects to Stem Corruption

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The decision taken by the chief minister came following several complaints of malpractices, while executing government projects, received by her through the Didi Ke Bolo initiative. The Trinamool Congress has also asked party leaders and workers to change their lifestyle and adopt austerity.


Sujit Nath

Over the past one year, there have been tell-tale signs of a ‘new TMC’ with a definite plan and script for the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls.

With virtually no slips of tongue and ‘strikingly’ missing key leaders, at least in the front rows, when Mamata Banerjee participated in anti-NRC and CAA rallies with common people across Kolkata before the Covid-19 crisis, the transformation has drawn the attention of political experts

While the Trinamool Congress was on the back foot amid allegations of "cut money" in government projects and relief work, corruption at the panchayat level and "syndicate raj", Mamata worked hard to cleanse the party and get it on track, especially in the backwoods, in a bid to get full majority in next year's elections.

Now, taking the ‘new TMC’ a step forward, the chief minister has clipped wings of the panchayat in the tendering process of crucial government projects, including roads, electrification, government buildings and sanitation works.

To start with, Mamata has decided to float the tenders "centrally" and not at the panchayat or district level for all the Pathashree Abhijan schemes. It is a road repair programme, where more than 7,000 stretches of roads of 12,000 kilometres across the state will be fixed in a mission mode and time-bound manner. The state government has collated a list of the roads that will be repaired under the new scheme. The initiative has been taken following grievances received from many people through the Didi Ke Bolo (Tell Didi) initiative.

Recently, in an administrative meeting in West Midnapore, the CM said, “We have decided to float and monitor the tendering process centrally. Panchayat will not decide. We will oversee it centrally. I will not tolerate if anyone asks for money during the work at ground level or if someone demands that his or her people should be employed at the work. Everything will be monitored by us centrally.”

The decision taken by Mamata came following several complaints of malpractices, while executing government projects, received by her through Didi Ke Bolo.

On several occasions, she also warned the party leaders allegedly involved in taking "cut money" from government schemes.

“TMC has taken many image makeover initiatives considering the upcoming state polls. Even the state CM has changed her tone while responding to opposition leaders and central ministers. It is clear that she (Mamata) has realised that people are angry at the ground level over corruption and ‘cut money’ issues. Therefore, in recent months hundreds of party cadres were side-lined and were punished. This is simple image makeover and I think these initiatives are the brainchild of Prashant Kishor,” author and political expert Kapil Thakur said.

It was learnt that the party's MLAs, local leaders, booth presidents and district presidents were asked to submit reports on days they spent in their respective constituencies and what welfare work they have done for the people.

They were also told by Mamata to perform or perish as there is no dearth of young people and newcomers who seriously want to work for the TMC.

State BJP president Dilip Ghosh had asked why the ruling party is reluctant to lodge FIRs against corrupt TMC leaders. “If they know the culprits, why are they delaying in taking serious action against them?” he had said.

It is public knowledge that the May 23, 2019, Lok Sabha poll results had proved the TMC chief’s worst fears true. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made massive gains in West Bengal, winning 18 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, up from just two in 2014.

Among many instructions, the party has asked its leaders, workers and cadres to "visibly change their lifestyle", which includes stopping things like the flaunting of luxury cars, giving contractual jobs to relatives, expensive gadgets, violence, and hobnobbing with the district administration.

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