Syndicates holding sway in Bengal: PM Modi

‘TMC using them for its political ends’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday criticised the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government for not cracking down on ‘syndicates’ (local groups involved in illegal trade in construction material) in West Bengal and accusing the TMC of using them for “killing Opposition party workers, consolidating its vote bank and for extortion.”

Mr. Modi was addressing a farmers welfare rally organised by the State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at Midnapore town in Paschim Medinipur district. The TMC leadership denied the allegations.

“I can clearly see the condition of the State government in Bengal. There is no profit for farmers, no development for the poor and no opportunities for the youth,” the Prime Minister said.

67 hurt in canopy crash

At least 67 people were injured when a part of the canopy collapsed on BJP supporters at the rally. Many sustained head injuries.

The Prime Minister alleged that ‘syndicates’ have gained control over not only development works such as building new hospitals and schools but also the agriculture market.

“From setting up new colleges and hospitals to the price of farmers’ crops, everything is decided by the syndicates,” said Mr. Modi. He also claimed that one can’t even take admission in colleges without paying them.

Accusing the TMC of “undermining democracy” in the State, the Prime Minister alleged that during the last panchayat elections several BJP workers were murdered.

“Those (TMC) who do not believe in democracy, judiciary, parliamentary norms, panchayat system and elections should remember that this is Bengal and they are not going to survive for long,” said the Prime Minister.

As for steps taken by the Centre for farmers’ welfare, the Prime Minister highlighted the government’s decision to hike the minimum support price for kharif crops.

In a joint statement TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee and national spokesperson and MP Derek O’ Brien termed the BJP “a syndicate that peddles religious extremism.”

“Your party (BJP) is a syndicate for fanatics …[for] lynching…[for] torture. Your party is a syndicate which created notebandi [demonetisation],” the TMC leadership said. It further alleged that the Prime Minister’s rally was attended by people mostly from Jharkhand and Orissa and there were “hardly any locals or farmers.”

Meanwhile those injured in the canopy crash were admitted to the Midnapore medical college hospital and one of them is in a critical condition.

Later the Prime Minister visited the hospital and spoke to the injured. “The Prime Minister has said that if anyone among the injured is in a critical condition we have to ensure the best treatment for them,” Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP’s national general secretary and the party’s observer in Bengal told journalists.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the State government will provide the best treatment. “We pray for the speedy recovery of all those injured…The government is giving all help for medical treatment,” tweeted Ms. Banerjee.

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