Winds of change seem to be blowing within the Trinamool Congress(TMC), a single-personality driven party , not exactly renowned for its inner party democracy. These days the TMC resembles a fresh new Liberty Hall, where people talk freely about the shortcomings of their leaders without fear of ‘Didi’ or Big S ister watching.
After Ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Sadhan Pande, it was the turn of high profile Trinamool Congress(TMC) MP from Krishnagar, Ms Mahua Moitra to speak out against corruption and mismanagement among her colleagues. In a recent video that went viral, she took on TMC’s Nadia district leaders head-on. For some time now, she has been gunning against them in her bid to improve the TMC’s functioning .
A few days ago, she proposed several major changes in the district party organisation, her second such effort in recent times. The first time, entrenched old timers who find her style somewhat pushy and over- ambitious, stalled her bid for change. Nothing daunted , even as the state administration lurched from one Post Corona/Amphan crisis to the next, she decided to have another go. .
The results have been predictable. The TMC leadership ,responding to the familiar howls of protest from the old guard, is yet to endorse the changes Ms Moitra suggested . Perhaps the gnomes at Kalighat/ Tailaja feel that the 2021 Assembly elections are too close already, for any inner party regroupings within the TMC.
Taking umbrage, she has spilled the beans about how local panchayat leaders . On average they receive about Rs 10 crore to ensure local development at the individual gram panchayat level over a 5 year period . Yet they miserably failed to spend the allotted sums , she said. Instead of improving/widening important link roads that could serve people and ease the movement of goods and traffic, only short, narrow link roads/lanes were ‘improved’ , to serve the egos of local TMC honchos. To avoid e-tendering and official scrutinies, scores of tiny projects involving minimal expenditure were carried out, leaving larger tasks urgently needed for local development on the back burner ! (So much for the tall claims about ‘the success of e-governance in Bengal,’ with dues apologies to Minister Amit Mitra !)
’If only the allotted funds were spent more wisely, keeping the urgent needs of local development in view, not a single road in Nadia would have remained ‘kutcha’ today!’ she lamented.
As with Pande and Mukherjee before Ms Moitra, TMC leaders played down her outburst. No one ever mentioned the need for inner party discipline. Their supremo, the Chief Minister who normally comments on the social media about everything happening from Kashmir to Kerala, remained inscrutably silent .
Mukherjee, fighting off obvious discomfiture at the criticism of Panchayats , said Ms Moitra might have been talking about problems in Nadia. And no thanks, he would not like to speak to her about the issues she had raised. Other party spokesmen at various fora put a brave face on Moitra’s video. One even claimed that at least it indicated there WAS democratic functioning within the TMC !
Speculation about the timing and substance of Ms Moitra’s public criticism of her party’s failures continue. A TMC Minister as reported in a local paper ,was surprised that the politically savvy MP did not raise such matters within the party earlier. Could her message that the ‘people would judge the record of local panchayat leaders ‘ , was intended as a warning to the party’s leadership ?
However, there was another explanation which went unreported in the Bengal press/media.
Ms Moitra had in a hard hitting Lok Sabha speech that had caught the attention of BJP leaders, strongly criticised Delhi for not helping Bengal financially. Later in his reply, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had referred to some points raised by her.
Specifically, he had pointed to the inability of certain Ministries in Bengal to spend their allotted sums in time, or to present the details of local expenditure incurred in development projects, apart from other procedural lapses and inefficiency. He also mentioned the failure of elected civic bodies to implement officially approved projects in time. Mr. Modi had concluded with a suggestion to Ms Moitra to take up such issues with the state’s Chief Minister and help improve the administrative functioning in Bengal. Securing financial help from Centre was never a problem, he insisted.
The question arises : Was Ms Moitra replying to the Prime Minister in her video or was she serving a warning to her own party leaders ?