Wednesday June 19, 2019
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Will Bengal’s syndicate Raj anguish the Trinamool Congress?

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Image source: www.hindustantimes.com

Kolkata: Simply defined, ‘syndicate’ means a group of individuals combining to promote a common interest; but in West Bengal, ‘syndicate’ not only dominates the economic aspect but is becoming a major political issue in the poll-bound state.

Enjoying political patronage, these cartels of muscle-flexing youth, are said to force promoters and contractors to buy construction materials often of inferior quality at high prices. It’s not just the brick or cement, even in hiring a legal expert for procedural formalities or a priest for performing the “bhumi pujan”, the syndicates have the final word.

From the city’s neighbouring Bidhannagar to the industrial belt of Asansol, these syndicates have been mushrooming wide and across and even the Calcutta High Court expressed its concern over the “syndicate raj”, pointing out that it has not spared even the judiciary.

While the allegations of political patronage for syndicates are mostly directed at the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front has also faced similar accusations towards the end of its 34-year-long tenure.

In fact, in the early years of the last decade, when then state housing minister Gautam Deb announced plans to acquire large tracts of land in the city’s north eastern fringes to set up the sprawling Newtown-Rajarhat township, it was decided that the land losers would form co-operatives for supplying building materials to the new land owners.

Gradually, these co-operatives became powerful as muscle and money added to their growing influence in the localities. Such is their clout now, that even local problems like landlord-tenant disputes or quarrels regarding road tap water queues are handled by syndicate heads.

The Trinamool has landed into a mess following party MLA Sabyasachi Dutta’s candid admission of the “flourishing syndicate raj”.

Already reeling under the Narada issue – a sting operation by a portal showing several of key Trinamool leaders taking bribe — and the recent flyover collapse that killed 26 people, the Trinamool is now at the receiving end of the opposition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a rally, said the TMC stands for “Terror”, “Maut” (death) and “Corruption”.

Two days after Dutta was caught in a sting in which he admitted how the “Rs.50 lakh to Rs.60 lakh required to fight the polls comes mostly from the syndicates”, Modi while campaigning in the state, tore into the Trinamool, saying “maut (death) and money have replaced the (TMC) slogan of “Maa Maati Manush (mother, land, people)”.

While the opposition – the CPI-M-led Left Front, the Congress and the BJP have been raising the syndicate issue time and again, Modi’s raising the issue has set the political temperatures soaring.

It’s not just in the poll season. The syndicates have been in the news for a long time with their highly lucrative business often alleged to be the major cause of factional feuds within the Trinamool.

With Bidhannagar and New Town being the hotbed of these syndicates, clashes allegedly between followers of Dutta and those of Bidhannagar’s Trinamool MLA, Sujit Bose – have often been reported.

There have also been several shoot-outs and murders involving members of the syndicates.

In fact, during her address to party supporters at a rally in the city, Banerjee sent out a strong message – asking them to choose between syndicates and the party.

West Bengal assembly elections are being held in six phases. The first phase was on April 4, the second is due on Monday. (IANS)

 

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Heavy Drenching in Bengal, Cyclone Fani Strongest Storm in Decades

"The rains will continue till early morning on Saturday, and the weather will start improving by evening"

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Kharagpur has so far recorded 95 mm rainfall, which will continue for the next two to three hours. Pixabay

Cyclone Fani, one of the strongest storms to batter the Indian subcontinent in decades, uprooted trees and triggered rains as it entered West Bengal post midnight on Saturday, hours after making landfall and causing havoc in Odisha on Friday.

No loss of life or any injury has been reported so far.

According to the Meteorological department, the extremely severe cyclonic storm relatively weakened after entering coastal Odisha and transformed into “very severe” as it approached Bengal.

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In the sea resort of Digha, the win speed reached 70 kmph in some areas, in Frazerganj the wind velocity was between 60 and 70 kmph. Pixabay

“The severe cyclonic storm Fani entered Bengal at 12.30 a.m. through Odisha’s Balasore. It crossed Kharagpur packing a wind of 70-80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph,” Regional Meteorological Centre’s Deputy Director General Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, said.

The storm is now lying close to Arambagh in Hooghly district, and is 40 km west of Kolkata.

“It is likely to continue further in north, north east direction, and reach the east Burdwan-Hooghly border, and through Nadia go to Bangladesh on Saturday afternoon, weakening into a cyclonic storm, after having triggered rains,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Fani lashed cities and towns in coastal Bengal including Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Sandehskhali and Contai while the effects of the storm could also be felt in cities like Kharagpur and Burdwan as trees were uprooted and metal hoardings gave way.

Parts of Kolkata and the suburbs also received moderate to heavy rainfall since Friday afternoon.

The epicentre of the storm is expected to hit the city in the early hours on Saturday.

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The storm is now lying close to Arambagh in Hooghly district, and is 40 km west of Kolkata. Pixabay

The rains would continue till early Saturday.

In the sea resort of Digha, the win speed reached 70 kmph in some areas, in Frazerganj the wind velocity was between 60 and 70 kmph.

Kharagpur has so far recorded 95 mm rainfall, which will continue for the next two to three hours.

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“The rains will continue till early morning on Saturday, and the weather will start improving by evening,” he said.

The administration has switched off electricity to prevent any accident as the storm passed through a particular point in the state. (IANS)