May 2, 2011


Buddhadeb asks people to defeat Trinamool if they want peace

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Saturday exhorted the people of Purba Medinipur to defeat the Trinamool Congress in the ensuing elections if they want peace. This district, which includes the Nandigram constituency, goes to the polls on May 3 in the fourth phase of Assembly Elections in West Bengal.

Addressing an election rally at Khejuri near Nandigram, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “Get ready to resist any attempt to foment trouble on election-day. Wherever there is Trinamool Congress, there is unrest – if you want peace, defeat them,” he exhorted the gathering, warning that the Trinamool only brings about bloodshed.

Reassuring the gathering that none would be able to defeat the Left Front, he said that the Opposition was trying to break the people's morale by projecting themselves as the winners. “They are trying to dampen your spirits. Don't be disheartened. None can defeat the Left Front,” he said.

Nandigram agitation

Referring to the period of unrest during the Nandigram agitation, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that the State government had wanted this place to become another Haldia (the industrial hub in the same district). Haldia, he said was just another village till it was transformed by the Left Front government. It is now providing jobs to thousands of youths, he said.

‘No mistake made'

“We made no mistake in choosing Nandigram (for setting up industries). But the rumour-mongering Opposition set Nandigram ablaze. We built roads, they dug them up. We laid bridges, they set them afire. They created trouble by ushering in the Maoists here,” he said. “Many people of this area had to flee their homes due to the terror unleashed by the Trinamool,” said the Chief Minister.

Pointing out that the panchayat here, now being governed by the Trinamool Congress, was riddled with corruption, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that this could not continue and it was time for people to stand up for their rights.

“What do they want to change?”

Ridiculing the Opposition's clamour for change, he quizzed: “What do they want to change — do they want to take land back from the marginal farmers to whom we gave land rights through land reforms?”

He said that the Eight Left Front government will take this process forward.

Commending the local girls for being well-educated, he said that the Eight Left Front government was keen to set up more colleges so as to empower the local youth.

THE HINDU, 30th April, 2011

EC issues notice to Trinamool

The Election Commission has issued notices to the Trinamool Congress and the chairmen of the United Bank of India and the Allahabad Bank in Kolkata seeking their explanation for availing themselves of /issuing pay orders for Rs.1.33 crore against cash payment.

In the notice to the Trinamool president, the EC wanted to know from the party the “circumstances under which the pay orders got issued by deposit of cash, in violation of the Reserve Bank of India guidelines without routing it through the bank account and the Commission's instructions on the subject.”

The Commission recalled that, at its all-party meeting and through various instructions, it had advised all parties to avoid transactions in cash during the election process in West Bengal.

In the notices sent to the chairmen of the United Bank of India and the Allahabad Bank, seeking their explanation by April 29, the Commission said the Kolkata main branch 14-India Exchange Place of Allahabad Bank had made two drafts for Rs.10 lakh by deposit of cash by the Trinamool, dated April 25, 2011, favouring M Power Global Access India Limited.

The Old Court House Street branch of the United Bank of India had made five drafts for Rs.1.23 crore on March 23, 2011, against deposit of cash by the Trinamool favouring Visual Audio.

“The RBI guidelines dated 1.7.2009 categorically prohibit any remittance of funds, by way of DD/telegraphic transfer or any other mode, of Rs.50,000 and above against cash payment. Besides, the EC is concerned about cash transactions during the election process as such transaction vitiates the poll process,” the notices said.

Buddhadeb's road show attracts huge crowds

Painted faces, balloons, umbrellas, large cut-outs of the party symbol being waved along with the party flag — everything about the procession that started at the gates of the Botanical Gardens in Howrah district on Tuesday was red. Even the showers of flowers — hibiscuses, roses and balsams — that shrouded the windscreen of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's car as soon as it entered the venue were crimson.

The roar of the crowds shouting out their “Laal Salam” to Comrade Buddhadeb Bhattcharjee drowned out the announcements being made over the loudspeakers. They had been waiting for hours in the sun anticipating his arrival. The numbers were so overwhelming that the open-hooded jeep that Mr. Bhattacharjee mounted was held back for a while before the procession could take off.

The jeep crawled its way through the procession that meandered its way through Shibpur, Howrah Uttar, Howrah Madhya and Howrah Dakshin constituencies for well over three hours till it reached its destination at Salkia. The district, along with Hooghly, Purba Medinipur and parts of Bardhaman will be going to the polls on May 3.

Supporters bearing flags and all forms of Communist Party of India (Marxist) insignia walked alongside — some of them inches away from Mr. Bhattacharjee's vehicle. Outstretched arms reached out to him even as he tried to shake hands with as many as he could, waving out to the rest. Some had painted their faces, others had plastered them with stickers of the CPI (M) symbol; some proudly flaunted tee-shirts given by the party, others had hunted through their wardrobe for shirts, saris or kurtas — anything red they could find.

Red caps and hats, scarves and bandanas, flags and banners — a red sea followed the black jeep Mr. Bhattacharjee was riding, flanked by the local candidates of the Left Front. Strains of “We shall overcome!” and other Bengali favourites of the Left movement followed the jeep everywhere it went.

Local residents managed a bird's eye view from the terraces and balconies of their homes even as they debated whether they had ever seen such a large procession go by in these parts. Children, student and youth activists and even the physically challenged had made their way to the procession. Francis Haldar, a 55-year-old supporter paralysed from the waist down, has attended several Left Front rallies, including mammoth rallies organised at the Brigade parade ground in Kolkata. “But this time is particularly special because the Chief Minster has come to my neighbourhood,” said Mr. Haldar, a resident of Shibpur.

Buddhadeb demands judicial inquiry in arms drop case

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Friday demanded a judicial inquiry by the Centre into the “political conspiracy” behind the arms drop from a foreign plane in Purulia 16 years ago.

“A political conspiracy has been exposed in the media behind the arms drop 16 years ago. And in this context and in the interest of internal security and the gravity of the incident therein, I demand a judicial probe,” the chief minister said in a statement here.

Recalling the dropping of a huge cache of arms from a plane “meant for the Anandmargis” in Purulia at midnight on December 17, 1995, the Chief Minister said, “An alert message from the Union home ministry reached the state home department a few days after the incident.

“The Central alert of December 12 was dispatched to Kolkata from Delhi by ordinary mail in a very casual manner. No advance wireless message was sent to the state on an urgent basis considering the gravity of the situation. The mail reached after the arms drop in Purulia.”

Mr. Bhattacharjee, who holds home (police) portfolio, said the state government handed over responsibility of the inquiry to the CBI considering the gravity of the incident.

“All seized sophisticated arms were handed over to the CBI by the state police. All the seized arms since the days of inquiry were in the custody of the CBI,” he added.

Purulia: Prakash Karat for judicial probe

The Communist Party of India(Marxist) on Friday demanded a judicial probe into the Purulia arms-drop case to uncover the network responsible for the incident.

“The Purulia arms-drop in December 1995 was one of the most serious instances of assault on the country's sovereignty. The investigations and the court trial proved that the arms were meant for the Ananda Marg, which was planning to use it to foment violence to destabilise the Left Front government,” the CPI(M) Polit Bureau said in a statement in the wake of an interview by Niels Christian Nielsan alias Kim Davy, the absconder in the case.

The party said the judicial inquiry should be held by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.

Addressing a press conference here, party general secretary Prakash Karat said the revelations by Davy and Peter Bleach, who was sentenced in the case, raised new questions and necessitated a fresh inquiry.

Mr. Karat said both Nielsen and Bleach made some serious charges of connivance by certain authorities in the air-drop plan and the cover up later.

He said the party believed that the then Central government was “grossly negligent” in dealing with British intelligence information about the arms-drop, “but are now revising our view.”

“We are not interested in scoring political points but when information was available why was the Centre not able to act and the main conspirator has still not been extradited …the government has been tardy in getting him extradited…” the CPI(M) leader said.

The Centre sent the arms-drop information to the State government by registered post and it arrived one week after the incident, Mr. Karat said, adding that Davy gave specific details of how he had escaped from the Mumbai airport and reached Nepal.

Mr. Karat said Davy named Pappu Yadav, an MP then, as the one who assisted him and that people of Purulia saw Mr. Yadav there soon after the arms-drop.

He said Mr. Yadav, who is in jail serving a life sentence for the murder of CPI(M) MLA Ajit Sarkar, should be interrogated and the trail by which Kim Davy escaped from the country should be uncovered and the persons responsible brought to book.

The existence of the Left Front government in West Bengal has been anathema to many domestic and international forces, he said, adding that even today, the spectre of violence in the form of Maoists is being used to destabilise the Left Front.

‘Killing fields'

“Even the Union Home Minister recently talked of the ‘killing fields' in West Bengal and blamed the CPI(M) for them. On the other hand, Maoist violence is being aided and supported by the Trinamool Congress, which is part of the Congress-led government at the Centre.”

Purulia: was West Bengal's LF regime the target?

By Marcus Dam

THE HINDU, April 29, 2011

The revelations to an Indian television channel on Thursday by Kim Davy, a prime accused in the arms drop case over the Jhalda area in West Bengal's Purulia district on December 17-18, 1995, and by Peter Bleach who served a sentence for his role in the incident, only go to indicate that various international forces have been colluding with those within the country in targeting and destabilising the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government in West Bengal.
They come not just as an eye-opener at a time when the Left Front is facing its most fierce electoral battle in recent times against an alliance of the Trinamool Congress and the Congress in the ongoing Assembly polls in the State; they also serve as a reminder to the electorate waiting to exercise its franchise in the coming three phases of polling — on May 3, 7 and 10.

What Mr. Davy has had to say in his interview to Times Now TV channel is, according to the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M), “further confirmation of the fact that there was a well-planned conspiracy to use violence to destabilise the Left Front at that time… Such moves are still on.”

Significantly, the arms drop occurred a year before Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were held in the State.

As the CPI(M) Polit Bureau observes “…it was a serious assault on India's sovereignty and a diabolical plot against an elected government [in West Bengal] and the Constitution.”

On being asked whether the Central government knew and had authorised the arms drop over Indian territory, Mr. Davy replied: “There were political forces at the Centre who saw it as an opportune way to further their political agenda.”

He continues: “You must remember that we are talking ancient history here, but in 1988 the Centre introduced Presidential Rule in Tripura [the Left Front was in power there in 1987-88] after engaging in supplying arms to different rebel groups there. The same strategy was announced publicly in the beginning of the 1990s that there was a decision to introduce Presidential Rule in West Bengal and therefore it was seen as a furthering of this agenda that arms were procured to protect local people.”

Startling exposé

The disclosures to Times Now by Mr. Bleach are more startling.

Asked what could be the motive behind dropping the arms in “Indian territory in such an illegal manner,” Mr. Bleach says: “To understand that you have to stop thinking of Indian territory. This wasn't dropped so much in Indian territory as in Bengali territory. The target here was the government of West Bengal. At that time, Jyoti Basu was the Chief Minister and the CPI(M) government was in power.”

“The whole objective [according] to my understanding was to destabilise the government of West Bengal so that President's rule could be declared in terms of the Constitution and the State would have been ruled directly from Delhi. That could have disposed the CPI(M) government and that was the entire purpose of the job as I understand it now. I didn't understand it at that time and I have to stress that,” Mr Bleach goes on to add.

As Biman Bose, CPI(M) State Secretary in West Bengal, says: “There have been moves to destabilise the Left Front government… There have been repeated demands for President's rule in the State; like the repeated efforts of the principal Opposition party in the State [Trinamool Congress] to get the Centre to impose President's rule in the State by engaging with the CPI (Maoist) in Jangal Mahal [in the south-western region of the State].”

Purulia arms-drop accused says operation was organised to bring down Left Front

THE HINDU, April 29, 2011
Niels Christian Nielsen, a Danish national fighting extradition to India for his alleged role in the 1997 air-drop of ammunition over Purulia, has said the operation was sanctioned by the Central government to destabilise West Bengal's Left Front government.

In an interview to Times Now television, Mr. Nielsen claimed that the Purulia arms drop was organised as a form of defence against alleged oppression by the CPI(M) in West Bengal. The government of the former Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, he said, “saw and approved the plans to arm the defence of these innocent people.”

Central Bureau of Investigation detectives have been seeking the extradition of Mr. Nielsen, also known by the alias Kim Davy, saying he was the key figure in organising the drop of several hundred assault rifles, ammunition and explosives to help the murky Ananda Marga cult start an anti-communist insurgency.

Peter Bleach, a former British special forces officer who arranged for the purchase of the aircraft used in the operation, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000, along with the Latvian crew. The convicts, however, all later received presidential pardon. In a separate interview to Times Now, Mr. Bleach backed elements of Mr. Nielson's case, saying “the whole objective, my understanding was, to destabilise the Government of West Bengal so that President's rule could be declared in terms of the Constitution [sic.] and the State would have been ruled directly from Delhi.”

Little is known about the 1961-born Nielsen, who is reported to be wanted in several countries on charges related to arms trafficking and money laundering. For years a member of the cult, Mr. Davy has also been linked to the South Sudan insurgent leader John Garang.

The CBI says that Mr Nielson met with Mr. Bleach at Copenhagen in August, 1995, and asked him to supply 2,500 assault rifles and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition. In September that year, the men met again in Bangkok, where the order was reduced to 500 assault rifles, as well as an aircraft for executing the drop over Purulia. Mr. Nielson succeeded in organising papers which persuaded Bulgaria to sell the weapons, which its authorities thought were intended for the Bangladesh armed forces.

Though sensational, Mr. Nielsen's claims are not new — and he has offered no new evidence in support of his claims.

In a 1995 interview to the British Broadcasting Corporation, he first asserted that the Indian government had deliberately overlooked intelligence warnings of the imminent arms-drop, hoping to precipitate an insurgency in West Bengal. “An armed insurgency in West Bengal would have allowed Delhi impose direct rule on the State and oust the ruling Communists,” the BBC reported him as saying.

Mr. Nielsen's claim that his escape was facilitated by the government was also made earlier by his organisation, the Ananda Marg. Bhaveshanand Avadhuta, a spokesperson for the group, said that it had “good reasons to believe Davy was escorted away by an Indian intelligence official called Dasan”.

But even though little evidence has emerged to support the claims, a succession of unexplained errors by Indian authorities has meant speculation about the operation has refused to go away.

Mr. Bleach, a retired special forces officer who ran an arms firm, had notified the North Yorkshire police of the planned arms drop in August 1995. He claims to have been asked to go ahead with purchasing the aircraft and continue providing information on the plot; British authorities deny this.

Later, in November, MI5, the British intelligence service, notified India that the arms drop was imminent. A London-based British government official involved with the case said at least three meetings took place to discuss events as they unfolded, though he would not share details. The West Bengal government was not immediately notified of the threat. Intelligence Bureau personnel, it later emerged, carried out reconnaissance at possible airstrips in the area, but no on-ground surveillance was mounted by the West Bengal Police.

Mr. Nielsen himself evaded arrest at the Mumbai airport, after the aircraft was finally forced to land by an Indian Air Force jet. Investigators say he bribed authorities at the airport to escape.

A senior CBI official also said Mr. Nielsen appeared to be seeking to “muddy the waters” at the final stage of extradition proceedings. “If he has anything to say”, the officer said, “we'd love to hear it — in court.”

মিথ্যা, বিপজ্জনক, অবাস্তব কথা বলছেন মমতা, নির্দিষ্ট তথ্য দিয়ে ব্যাখ্যা গৌতম দেব-এর

সম্প্রতি ‘স্টার আনন্দ’ চ্যানেলে বহুবার প্রচারিত এক সাক্ষাৎকারে তৃণমূল ‘সুপ্রিমো’ ও রেলমন্ত্রী মমতা ব্যানার্জি বলেছেন, ‘আমি মিথ্যা কথা বলি না।’

সি পি আই (এম) নেতা ও রাজ্যের আবাসন ও জনস্বাস্থ্য দপ্তরের মন্ত্রী গৌতম দেব এই দাবি সম্পর্কে বলেন, মমতা ব্যানার্জির এই দাবি বছরের সেরা তামাশা। মমতা ব্যানার্জি ও তৃণমূলের রাজনীতিই মিথ্যাচারের ওপরে দাঁড়িয়ে আছে। গোড়া থেকে এখনও পর্যন্ত যেসব মিথ্যাচার ওরা করেছে, একটার পর একটা ঘটনা লিখে বই ছাপিয়ে দিয়েছেন সি পি আই (এম) নেতা রবীন দেব। ‘সেই মিথ্যাচার আজও চলছে’ নামে ওই বইতে উল্লেখ করা প্রতিটি ঘটনা মিথ্যাব প্রমাণ করার তথ্যও রয়েছে তাঁর কাছে। মমতা ব্যানার্জির যদি সাহস থাকে তবে উনি আমাদের বিরুদ্ধে আদালতে মামলা করুন!

ওই সাক্ষাৎকারে মমতা ব্যানার্জি যে বক্তব্য রেখেছেন, তা উদ্ধৃত করে প্রতিটির জবাব দিয়েছেন গৌতম দেব। নিচে তা দেওয়া হলো:
১. মমতা ব্যানার্জি: ‘গরিবদের ২টাকা কেজি চাল কেন্দ্রের প্রকল্প, বামফ্রন্টের না..।’

গৌতম দেব : পর্যাপ্ত বাজে কথা বলে উনি অভ্যস্ত, তাই একথা বলছেন। একটু খোঁজ নিলেই যে কেউ জানতে পারবেন,কেন্দ্রীয় সরকার দারিদ্র্যসীমার নিচের মানুষদের জন্য চাল দেয় ৫টাকা ৬৫পয়সা প্রতি কেজি দরে। রাজ্য সরকার প্রতি কেজিতে ৩টাকা ৬৫পয়সা ভরতুকি দেয় বলেই গরিব মানুষ ২টাকা কেজি দরে চাল পান। এরজন্য রাজ্য সরকারকে প্রতি বছর ৪৫০কোটি টাকা ভরতুকি দিতে হয়। পশ্চিমবঙ্গে বি পি এল তালিকা অনুযায়ী এখন ২কোটি ৬৪লক্ষ মানুষ ২টাকা কেজি দরে চাল পান। আর দেড় মাস বাদে অষ্টম বামফ্রন্ট সরকার যখন গঠিত হবে, সেই সরকারে সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়ে ১০হাজার টাকা পর্যন্ত আয় এমন পরিবারকেও আমরা ২টাকা কেজি দরে চাল দেব। আরো দেড়-দু’কোটি মানুষ এই সুবিধা পাবেন।

২. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘রাজ্যের ৮০শতাংশ পুলিসকর্মী সি পি এম-এর ক্যাডার..।’

গৌতম দেব: বামফ্রন্ট সরকার এরাজ্যে ৩৫বছর রয়েছে। কিছুদিন বাদে এমন পুলিস পাওয়া যাবে না, যার চাকরি বামফ্রন্ট সরকারের আমলে হয়নি। উনি হয়তো সেটা ভেবেই এমন কথা বলেছেন। মজার কথা হলো, ওঁর কথায় যারা চাকরি জীবনে ‘সি পি এম-র ক্যাডার’, তারাই অবসরের পর যাচ্ছে কালীঘাটের বাড়িতে। তাহলেই বুঝুন!

৩. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারের অর্ধেক কর্মী রেলে কাজ করেন..।’

গৌতম দেব : বর্তমানে গোটা দেশে কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারী কর্মচারীর সংখ্যা ১কোটি ২০লক্ষ। আর রেলে এখন কাজ করেন মোট ১৪ লক্ষের একটু কম। ১কোটি ২০লক্ষের অর্ধেক ১৪ লক্ষ, এমন অঙ্ক কালীঘাটের বাড়িতেই বোধহয় শেখা সম্ভব!

৪. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘তৃণমূলের লক্ষাধিক কর্মীর বিরুদ্ধে মামলা করা হয়েছে..।’

গৌতম দেব : ফালতু কথা! এরাজ্যে বিভিন্ন মামলায় জামিনঅযোগ্য গ্রেপ্তারি পরোয়ানা জারি করা হয়েছে এমন ব্যক্তির মোট তালিকা নির্বাচন কমিশনের কাছে জমা দেওয়া হয়েছে। সংখ্যাটা হলো ৮২হাজার ২৭৭জন। এর মধ্যে খুনী, চোর, ডাকাত যেমন আছে, তেমনি কংগ্রেস, তৃণমূল, সি পি আই (এম) প্রভৃতি সব দলের লোকেরই নাম আছে। আমরা সরকারে আছি, আমাদের কাছে সাম্প্রতিকতম তালিকাও আছে। মমতা ব্যানার্জি বা পার্থ চ্যাটার্জির কাছে যদি শুধু ওদের দলেরই এমন ১লক্ষ লোকের নাম থাকে, তবে ওঁরা তালিকা দিন, আমরা মিলিয়ে নেব!

৫. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘রাজ্যের ৫০শতাংশ গ্রামে এখনো বিদ্যুৎ যায়নি..।’
গৌতম দেব : একদম অসত্য কথা! পশ্চিমবঙ্গে মোট মৌজার সংখ্যা ৩৭, ৯১০টি। বিদ্যুৎ পৌঁছেছে ৩৭,৭৫৫টিতে। অল্প কিছু বাকি আছে। দেখবেন, গতবার আমরা ইশ্‌তেহারে বলেছিলাম, পাঁচ বছরে সমস্ত মৌজায় বিদ্যুৎ পৌঁছাবো। এবারে সচেতনভাবেই সেকথা আমরা লিখিনি, কারণ যা বাকি আছে তা অল্পদিনেই হয়ে যাবে। এবারে আমরা লিখেছি, অষ্টম বামফ্রন্ট সরকার বিদ্যুৎহীন সমস্ত বাড়িতে বিদ্যুৎ পৌঁছে দেবে। সেকাজ আমরা পাঁচ বছরে ধাপে ধাপে করবো।

৬. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘এই সময়ে আমরা একদিনও বনধ্‌ বা অবরোধ করিনি..।’

গৌতম দেব : তৃণমূল বনধ্‌ বা অবরোধ করেনি, একথা শুনলে তো মমতা ব্যানার্জির বাড়ির লোকেরা পর্যন্ত হাসবে। ২০০৬ সাল থেকে যদি ধরা যায়, তবে ওই বছরের ৩০শে নভেম্বর বিধানসভা ভাঙচুর, কলকাতায় অবরোধ, বাস ভাঙচুর করে তৃণমূল। ১লা ডিসেম্বর বন্‌ধ ডাকে। ২রা ডিসেম্বর ট্রেন অবরোধ, হামলা করে। ৫ই ডিসেম্বর এস ইউ সি-নকশাল বন্‌ধকে তৃণমূল সমর্থন করে। ৬ই ডিসেম্বর রাজ্যে ২ ঘণ্টার জন্য রাস্তা ও রেল অবরোধ করে। ওই বছরের ২১শে ও ২২শে ডিসেম্বর ৪৮ ঘণ্টা বন্‌ধ ডেকেছিল, যদিও ২০শে ডিসেম্বর রাতে তা প্রত্যাহার করে নেয়। এরপর ২০০৭ সালের ১৬ই মার্চ তৃণমূল বাংলা বন্‌ধ করে। ২০০৭ সালের ১২ই নভেম্বর কংগ্রেস-তৃণমূল কংগ্রেস এবং বি জে পি সকলে মিলে বন্‌ধ ডাকে, ওইদিন গোটা রাজ্যে হামলা হয়েছিল মানুষের ওপর। এমন তালিকা আরো আছে। মানুষ সেটা জানেন।

৭. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘আমি ছোট মন্ত্রিসভা করবো..।’

গৌতম দেব : চাইলেই বেশি মন্ত্রী করা যায় না। সংবিধান সংশোধন করে আইন হয়েছে যে মোট সাংসদ বা বিধায়কের ১৫শতাংশের বেশি মন্ত্রী করা যাবে না। উনি সেদিন ৪-৫টা গুরুত্বপূর্ণ দপ্তরের নামও বলে দিয়েছেন যেগুলো নিজের হাতে রাখবেন। আসলে মমতা ব্যানার্জি সবচেয়ে খুশি হতেন যদি উনি নিজে একাই মন্ত্রী হতে পারতেন। আর এখন এসব অর্থহীন কথা বলছেন কেন? যখন ১৯টা এম পি নিয়ে নিজেসহ ৭জনকেই মন্ত্রী করলেন, তখন এসব ছোট মন্ত্রিসভা করার কথা মনে ছিল না? আবার সুদীপ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়কে মন্ত্রী করার জন্য ঘুরঘুর করছেন! আমরা বামপন্থীরা তো প্রথম ইউ পি এ সরকারের সময়ে ৬১জন এম পি নিয়ে সমর্থন করলেও একজনও মন্ত্রী হইনি!

৮. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘বিধান পরিষদ গঠন করবো..।’

গৌতম দেব : দু’-একটি ছাড়া প্রায় সব রাজ্যে তুলে দেওয়া হয়েছে। তৃণমূলের কোনো বিধায়ক বিধানসভায় গত পাঁচ বছরে একবারও বলেনি, উল্লেখ পর্যন্ত করেনি। তাহলে হঠাৎ একথা বলছেন কেন? আসলে যাদের প্রার্থী করতে পারেননি, তাদের বিক্ষোভ চাপা দিতেই এসব কথা বলতে বাধ্য হয়েছেন।

৯. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘ রাজ্য সরকার দেউলিয়া, দু’লক্ষ কোটি টাকার বেশি দেনা..।’
গৌতম দেব : মমতা ব্যানার্জি যে সরকারের মন্ত্রী, এই মুহূর্তে সেই কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারের মোট দেনার পরিমাণ ৩৯লক্ষ কোটি টাকা। উত্তর প্রদেশের দেনা ২লক্ষ ২১হাজার কোটি টাকা, মহারাষ্ট্রের দেনা ২লক্ষ ৭হাজার কোটি টাকা, অন্ধ্র প্রদেশের দেনা ১লক্ষ ২৭হাজার কোটি টাকা দেনা, আর পশ্চিমবঙ্গের দেনা ১লক্ষ ৮৬হাজার কোটি টাকা। বড় রাজ্যগুলোর মধ্যে আর্থিক দিক থেকে শক্তিশালী রাজ্য পশ্চিমবঙ্গ। আর আমাদের রাজ্যের এই পুঞ্জীভূত দেনা জমা হয়েছে সেই ১৯৪৭সাল থেকে। আরেকটা তথ্য, গত ৩০মাসে আর্থিক সঙ্কট মেটাতে কেন্দ্রীয় অর্থমন্ত্রক ব্যাঙ্কগুলো থেকে ঋণ নিয়েছে ৯লক্ষ কোটি টাকা।
১০. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘আমি গত দু’বছরে পশ্চিমবঙ্গে রেলের পক্ষ থেকে ১লক্ষ কোটি টাকা এনেছি..।’

গৌতম দেব : মমতা ব্যানার্জি রেলমন্ত্রী হিসাবে গোটা দেশের জন্য ২০১০-১১সালে ৪১ হাজার ৬২৬কোটি টাকা এবং ২০১১-১২সালে ৫৭হাজার ৬৩০কোটি টাকার বাজেট পেশ করেছেন। দু’বছরের মোট বাজেট মেলালে প্রায় ১লক্ষ কোটি টাকা হয়, গোটা দেশের জন্য। আর উনি বলছেন, শুধু পশ্চিমবঙ্গেই নাকি ১লক্ষ কোটি টাকা বরাদ্দ করেছেন! একটু-আধটু লেখাপড়া জানা লোকও এসব বিশ্বাস করবেন না!

১১. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘অসংগঠিত শ্রমিকদের জন্য প্রকল্প কেন্দ্রের...।’

গৌতম দেব : আবার মিথ্যা কথা। কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারের যে প্রকল্প আছে তা শুধু বি পি এল-র জন্য, যার মধ্যে অধিকাংশ অসংগঠিত শ্রমিক পড়েন না। আমরা যে ২৫লক্ষের বেশি অসংগঠিত শ্রমিককে ইতোমধ্যেই প্রভিডেন্ট ফান্ড প্রকল্পে যুক্ত করেছি, তাতে ৬১টি নির্দিষ্ট ক্ষেত্রের সমস্ত শ্রমিক পড়বেন। এটা রাজ্য সরকারের নিজস্ব প্রকল্প। অসংগঠিত শ্রমিকদের জন্য প্রভিডেন্ট ফান্ড প্রকল্প ছাড়াও অসংগঠিত শ্রমিকদের জন্য স্বাস্থ্য সুরক্ষা প্রকল্প, ক্ষেতমজুরদের জন্য প্রভিডেন্ট ফান্ড, নির্মাণশ্রমিকদের জন্য পেনশন, পরিবহন শ্রমিকদের জন্য পেনশন, পরিবহন শ্রমিকদের ছেলেমেয়ের জন্য শিক্ষাভাতা, বিড়ি শ্রমিকদের জন্য প্রভিডেন্ট ফান্ড ছাড়াও আরো অনেকগুলি প্রকল্প আছে। অষ্টম বামফ্রন্ট সরকার অসংগঠিত শ্রমিকদের জন্য এই সুবিধা আরো প্রসারিত করবে।

১২. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘রেলের ভাড়া বাড়াইনি, কর চাপাব না..।’

গৌতম দেব : গত দু’বছরে ভাড়া না বাড়িয়ে রেল বাজেট করেছেন কেন্দ্রের কাছ থেকে যথাক্রমে ১৫হাজার ৮৭৫কোটি টাকা ও ২০হাজার কোটি টাকা ধার নিয়ে। কেন্দ্র টাকা দিয়েছে কর চাপিয়েই। কর চাপাননি, কিন্তু রেলের পণ্য মাসুল বাড়িয়েছেন। তাছাড়া বাজার থেকে দু’বছরে যথাক্রমে ৯হাজার ১২০কোটি টাকা এবং ২০হাজার ৫৯৪কোটি টাকা বন্ড তুলেছেন। বছর বছর এই বিপুল ধার রেলকে কোথায় নিয়ে যাচ্ছে? কার জন্য এই ধারের বোঝা উনি রেখে যাচ্ছেন?

১৩. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘ গত এক বছরে ৭১০কিমি রেললাইন করেছি..।’

গৌতম দেব : সংসদে মিথ্যা কথা বলার জন্য মমতা ব্যানার্জির বিরুদ্ধে স্বাধিকার ভঙ্গের নোটিস জমা পড়েছে। উনি রেল বাজেট করার সময় বলেছেন, ৭০০কিমি রেল লাইন করেছি। অথচ কেন্দ্রীয় অর্থমন্ত্রক তার রিপোর্টে বলেছে, গত ছয়মাসে মাত্র ৫৯কিমি রেললাইন হয়েছে। লাইন ডাবলিং বলেছেন ৭০০কিমি, অর্থমন্ত্রক বলেছে ছয়মাসে ৫৫কিমি। মমতা ব্যােনার্জি বলেছেন, ইলেকট্রিফিকেশন হয়েছে ১০০০ কিমি, কিন্তু অর্থমন্ত্রক বলছে ছয়মাসে মাত্র ২৪৩ কিমি। উনি বলেছেন, গেজ পরিবর্তন হয়েছে ৮০০কিমি, অর্থমন্ত্রক বলেছে ছয়মাসে মাত্র ১৪০ কিমি। ওঁর যা দাবি, অর্থমন্ত্রকের দেওয়া তথ্যকে ডবলের ডবল করলেও হয় না।

১৪. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘রেলে ১লক্ষ ৮০হাজার লোকের কর্মসংস্থান করে দিয়ে এসেছি..।’

গৌতম দেব : ফালতু কথা বলার একটা সীমা আছে! সরকারী চাকরিতে নিয়োগ করার একটা নির্দিষ্ট প্রক্রিয়া আছে। তার একটি প্রক্রিয়ার কথাও উনি বলতে পারবেন না। রেল বাজেটের অন্তত একটি জায়গায় মমতা ব্যানার্জি দেখান যে, উনি এই ১লক্ষ ৮০হাজার লোকের বেতন বাবদ টাকা বরাদ্দ রেখেছেন! উনি দেখান, রেল বোর্ডের কোন বৈঠকে এই কর্মসংস্থানের সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হয়েছে! কেন্দ্রীয় অর্থমন্ত্রকের কাছে কবে রেলমন্ত্রক এই ফাইল পাঠিয়েছে? কবে অর্থমন্ত্রক প্রধানমন্ত্রীর কাছে সেই ফাইল অনুমোদনের জন্য পাঠিয়েছে? কেন্দ্রীয় মন্ত্রিসভার কোন বৈঠকে এই সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হয়েছে? মুখে বললাম, ১লক্ষ ৮০হাজার লোকের কর্মসংস্থান করে দিয়ে এসেছি, আর হয়ে গেলো, বিষয়টা অত সোজা না! পারলে উনি কাগজ দেখান।

১৫. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘পাহাড়ে, জঙ্গলমহলে তিন মাসে শান্তি ফেরাব..।’
গৌতম দেব : কোন্‌ ফরমুলায় করবেন? মমতা ব্যানার্জির কোন্‌ ফরমুলায় মাওবাদীরা হারমনিয়াম নিয়ে হরিকীর্তন করবেন মানুষ খুন ছেড়ে? বিমল গুরুঙ সাদা পতাকা নাড়বে পাহাড়ে? যদি ফরমুলাটা বলে দেন, তবে আমরা বুদ্ধদাকে বলবো তিন মাসের জন্য মুখ্যমন্ত্রী পদ ছেড়ে দিতে।!

১৬. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘মাওবাদীরা সি পি এম-র আমদানি..।’

গৌতম দেব : যে মাওবাদীদের উনি ‘সি পি এম-র আমদানি’ বলছেন, সেই মাওবাদীরাই মমতা ব্যানার্জিকে মুখ্যমন্ত্রী চাইছে! আর সি পি আই (এম) নেতা-কর্মীদের খুন করছে।

১৭. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘সি পি এম এখন কোমায়..।’

গৌতম দেব : ওঁর কথায় ব্রিগেডে লক্ষ লক্ষ মানুষ ‘কোমা’ থাকা অবস্থায় এসেছিলেন! কলেজে কলেজে ছাত্ররা এস এফ আইকে জেতাচ্ছে ‘কোমা’য় আছে বলে! প্রাথমিক শিক্ষকরা বিপুলভাবে বামপন্থীদের জিতিয়েছে ‘কোমা’য় আছে বলে! আমি একজন ডাক্তারকে জিজ্ঞাসা করে জানলাম, কোমা থাকলে বাঁচানো সম্ভব, কিন্তু ব্রেন ডেথ হলে আর ফেরানো সম্ভব না। খাবে-দাবে, কিন্তু আর স্বাভাবিক হবে না। তাই মমতা ব্যানার্জির কথায় যদি ‘সি পি এম এখন কোমায়’ থাকে, তাহলে ওঁর তো ‘ব্রেন ডেথ’ হয়ে গেছে।

১৮. মমতা ব্যানার্জি : ‘হিন্দুদের ভাগ থেকে মুসলিমদের সংরক্ষণ..।’

গৌতম দেব : মারাত্মক কথা বলেছেন, যা বি জে পি-র থেকেও বেশি সাম্প্রদায়িক উস্‌কানিমূলক কথা। দাঙ্গা বাঁধানোর মতো কথা এটা। সারা ভারতে প্রথম পশ্চিমবঙ্গে বুদ্ধদেব ভট্টাচার্য গরিব মুসলিমদের জন্য সংরক্ষণ করার এই ঐতিহাসিক সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছেন। এটা হিন্দুদের ভাগ থেকে নয়, সমস্ত অনগ্রসর হিন্দুদের জন্য সংরক্ষণ করার পর সুপ্রিম কোর্টের রায় মেনে অবশিষ্ট অংশ থেকে করা।

Flow of black money in West Bengal elections

Sat, 2011-04-23 09:59 — tikender

As West Bengal is passing through one of its toughest battles in the political arena with all sorts of forces from extreme Left-Centre- Extreme Right aligning to defeat the Left, the issue of Corporate entry , read with Black money has become a prominent issue . Thanks to the people of this state who have responded positively to this issue though in neo liberalism it is brushed under the carpet. Though the efforts , as stated in an article written by P Sainath in The Hindu’ that bribers should be legitimized, are to underlay this foremost issue of the people that is also connected to their livelihoods. As has appeared in a section of print and electronic media especially in West Bengal that rampant flow of Black money is taking place with the Corporate houses backing the TMC, the revelation made during the burning of fraud receipts have thoroughly exposed the party of massive inflow of such money. The phases that have passed by have reported that allurement from umbrellas, cash , CD players to Colour television sets have been made by the TMC in North Bengal not to undermine the massive flow and distribution of free liquor in targeted colonies with hard cash along. No surprise that even the US imperialism has set its eyes on the election to ensure that the agenda of neo liberalism is carried on unhindered in the Indian nation state with the removal of Left Front government one of the foremost outposts of the struggle against the policies of LPG.

After all where does this money comes from?

Com Gautam Deb one of the ministers in the West Bengal has made a scathing attack on the TMC and some of the sources from where this BM is pouring in. There is another source which has relatively not been underlined and in fact underestimated its strength. I am talking about the person who was caught with Rs 57 lac cash while travelling from Assam to Delhi in a chartered aircraft. Somehow he was let off by the concerned authorities though a complaint has been made with the Election Commission as well. He also happens to be the owner of Alchemist and his name is Kanwar Deep Singh @ KD Singh. What is his relation with WB election? Apart from having business interests in the region he is the one who hails from Punjab became and independent Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand. How? Does not require any description. One can easily decipher the reality. And now is a member of TMC. This KD Singh not only is one amongst the largest sources of funding and providing BM in the elections it also has a dubious history and methodology of creating this money bypassing the law of the land and cheating the people. I have a case to the point that connects his to my state of Himachal Pradesh as well.

The state of Himachal Pradesh has a peculiar qualification in the Land reforms and tenancy act . Accordingly , non-agriculturist even if one is from Himachal what to talk about non-Himachalis, can purchase land in the state. But KD Singh owing to expand his business interests entered into an agreement with a management of a prestigious school named Himalayan International School’ (HIS) , Charabra just 7 kilometers from Shimla that he will buy the school and the 30 bighas landed property alongwith for a sum of Rs 12 crores. However it is not admissible under the provisions of law . Then a dummy agriculturist in the garb of a buyer was created and a sale deed was registered for Rs 6 crore only the rest amount given in Black. This money was paid from the accout of Alchemist/KD Singh. Immediately thereafter , the school management was changed with a congruency of Alchemist management taking over. The first task it performed was to shut the school down and ask the parents to withdraw their children and the staff and the teachers were asked to resign as the school was now to be re-designed into a hospitality department i.e a multi star hotel.

However with the intervention of the parents and the people of HP, the High Court was knocked and it is with such an intervention that stayed the evil intentions of the TMC Member of Parliament. The civil writ petition in has asked for snatching the aforesaid property from KD Singh and vesting it with the state of HP as the deal has taken place in contravention to the provisions of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act.

The move has thoroughly exposed the sinister designs of the TMC MP and it is this exactly what best the TMC can offer to the people of West Bengal with such high profile’ tagged people in its coterie of bandwagon.

Prime land in Kolkata leased to Bengali paper

By Romita Datta
LIVEMINT, Posted: Mon, Feb 28 2011. 1:00 AM IST

The Trinamool Congress-controlled Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has allotted two acres on lease to a Bengali newspaper, run by a trust founded by a party member, for a premium of `6.6 crore, when it may have earned 10 times that amount by auctioning the land.

The move comes months ahead of assembly elections in West Bengal, in which an alliance of Trinamool Congress and the Congress party is hoping to end the three-decades-old rule of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM-led Left Front.

KMC has leased out the plot to Pratidin Media Trust, which runs the Sambad Pratidin newspaper, for `550,000 a cottah, or `3.3 crore an acre, and an annual lease rent of `1 a cottah. A cottah is one-sixtieth of an acre. The 33-year lease is renewable for two more terms of 33 years each.

Three years ago, the corporation had leased out to DLF Ltd a five-acre plot in the same neighbourhood for almost 10 times the lease premium: `52 lakh a cottah, or `31.2 crore an acre. DLF had secured the plot through an open auction; this time there was no contest.

Developers said the plot could have fetched a lease premium of `70-80 crore if KMC had chosen the tenant through an auction.

“Only a few years ago, LIC (Life Insurance Corp. of India Ltd) had paid over `50 crore an acre to secure from KMC a plot in the same neighbourhood,” said a real estate developer. The insurer was to build a hotel there, but is yet to start the development.

The largesse comes at a time KMC is unable to achieve its `150 crore revenue target from sale and redevelopment of properties it owns, and is dipping into bank deposits to complete projects.

The founder of Pratidin Media Trust, Swapan Sadhan Basu, is a Trinamool Congress representative in Rajya Sabha. His son and the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Srinjoy Bose, said there isn’t anything surprising in the deal. “The Left Front has in the past done similar things many times.”

Kolkata’s mayor Sovan Chatterjee when asked why the concession was made, said the trust would use the plot for “some good cause”, without elaborating.

The decision was approved by Trinamool municipal councillors after Left Front representatives “left the house protesting against another issue”, said Rupa Bagchi, a CPM councillor and leader of the opposition in the KMC.

“It was not even on agenda,” she said. “We didn’t know they would move this proposal after we staged a walkout.”

This isn’t the first time KMC has allotted land to news organizations. Former mayor and Trinamool Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee said in his term (2000-2005) he had allotted land to several newspapers irrespective of their political leanings.

“I had given land to Pratidin, too,” he said.

Status of Muslims in West Bengal

By Maidul Islam & Subhashini Ali

THE HINDU, April 14, 2011 02:11 IST

Misleading data cited in a seminar paper on the situation of the minority community in the State tend to detract from the Left Front government's exceptional record on this count.

Abusaleh Shariff, the Chief Economist of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, who was the Member-Secretary of the Sachar Committee, presented a paper on the socio-economic development of Muslims in West Bengal, at a seminar organised by the Institute of Objective Studies in March. A newspaper report of his presentation claimed that the situation of Muslims in West Bengal was worse than in Gujarat.

This is an erroneous and shocking statement. The ghettoisation and marginalisation of Muslims in Gujarat since the state-sponsored pogrom of 2002 is well-documented. West Bengal, on the other hand, has had no communal violence since l964, and Muslims enjoy security.

The figures of Muslims' access to government employment and education in West Bengal as presented by Mr. Shariff are based on outdated data. He has relied on Census 2001 figures. In fact, the West Bengal government seems to be among the few governments that have taken both the criticism and recommendations contained in the Sachar Committee Report seriously.

The newspaper report said: “Shariff's figures on education, sourced, according to him from the census database and the Planning Commission, show that 50 per cent Muslim children attend school at the primary level, 26 per cent remain in middle school and only 12 per cent complete matriculation against 54 per cent, 30 per cent and 13 per cent respectively for SC/STs and 80 per cent, 58 per cent and 38 per cent for others.” These are data from the Sachar Report (pages 295-299), based on Census 2001. Since then, there has been a significant improvement in the matter of enrolment of Muslims in school in the State. Latest data from the District Information System for Education, which is a joint initiative of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), the Department of School Education and Literacy, the Ministry of Human Resources Development and UNICEF, show West Bengal in a good light.

According to the NUEPA report, in the last three years (2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10), respectively 28.13, 28.28 and 32.30 of every 100 primary school children in West Bengal were Muslims, while 25.25 per cent of the State's population is Muslim. West Bengal's figures for Muslim students' enrolment at the primary level are better than the national average of 10.49 per cent (in 2007-08), 11.03 per cent (in 2008-09) and 13.48 per cent (in 2009-10) respectively, while Muslims form 13.43 per cent of India's population. West Bengal's record is far better than that of Gujarat. There, Muslim students' enrolment at the primary level was 4.57 per cent (2007-08), 4.73 per cent (2008-09) and 6.45 per cent (2009-10). Among all States and Union Territories, West Bengal ranks sixth in primary school level enrolment among Muslim students.

In 2009-10, upper primary school enrolment among Muslim students in West Bengal was 26.46 per cent. At the elementary school level it was 30.56 per cent, more than the proportion of Muslims in the State's population. The State thus occupied the sixth position among all States and Union Territories. The figures for West Bengal are better than the national average of 11.89 per cent and 13.02 per cent respectively, and far ahead of Gujarat: for that State the corresponding figures are 6.44 per cent and 6.45 per cent respectively.

On employment of Muslims in West Bengal, Mr. Shariff has again quoted from the Sachar Report (page 370), which had said its data for West Bengal were incomplete (pages 170, 173). The Report ignores the employment of Muslims in secondary and primary educational centres, which, according to the State government's data is 37 per cent of the total teachers employed. Since more than 20,000 teachers in registered madrasas receive the wages and benefits of government school teachers and the majority of them are Muslims, they should be counted as government servants. For the expansion of madrasa education, the State budgetary provision has increased from only Rs.5.6 lakh in 1976-77 to Rs. 574 crore in the current year. The Central government's allocation for madrasa education (SPQEM) was Rs. 127 crore in the 2011 budget.

In 2010, West Bengal reserved 10 per cent of all State government jobs for OBC Muslims, as per the recommendation of the Ranganath Misra Commission. The newspaper report quotes Mr. Shariff as saying: “A look at OBC statistics in Bengal shows only 2.4 per cent of its Muslims belong to that category.” In truth, after the recommendations of the Misra Commission were made public, a list of 56 ‘more backward communities', 49 of them Muslims, was included in the OBC list in West Bengal. As a result, of the 2.02 crore Muslims in West Bengal, 1.72 crore, or 85 per cent of the total, were notified as OBCs. West Bengal is the first State to implement the Misra Commission recommendations.

The Central government's commitment to the Sachar Committee recommendations is half-hearted and meagre. Whereas the Committee recommended increased spending on Muslim minority educational, health and other needs to the extent of about 15 per cent of the Union Budget, and West Bengal demanded a sub-plan for Muslims on the lines of the SC/ST sub-plans, the Centre has allocated less than 0.5 per cent in the Budgets it has presented since the Committee's Report was tabled in Parliament. In Budget 2011, the Centre reduced the allocation to the Multi-Sectoral Development Plan of minority-dominated districts by Rs. 100 crore. West Bengal, which accounts for 12 of the 90 MSDP districts, has the best record with respect to the implementation of the scheme.

West Bengal's track record in other welfare measures is also impressive. The West Bengal Minority Development Corporation had disbursed term-loans and micro-credit to 1,82,646 persons till January 2011. This is the best record of credit disbursement among all minority finance corporations. The share of bank loans for the minorities in the total priority sector loans of banks in the State increased from 7.89 per cent as on March 31, 2009, to 14.76 per cent as on March 31, 2010. This grew to cross the national level target (15 per cent) and reached 15.01 per cent as on September 30, 2010. At the national level, it is still to reach 10 per cent.

West Bengal is the topper in implementing the Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme. Among self-employed business persons who benefited from PMEG, over 30 per cent are from among the minorities. Among all self-help groups in West Bengal with access to institutional credit, 21.8 per cent are groups with Muslim members.

An important aspect of the backwardness of the Muslim minority is landlessness. In most parts of India, landlessness among Muslims has increased after l947. West Bengal is an exception. The success of land reforms under Left-led governments here has significantly benefited Muslims. Among rural households in West Bengal, Muslim households, which constitute 30.9 per cent, have access to 25.6 per cent of the total cultivated land. This is second only to Jammu and Kashmir, which has a much higher percentage of Muslim citizens who have access to 30.3 per cent of cultivable land in the State. Of the land pattas distributed in West Bengal during the period 1977-2010, 18 per cent went to Muslim households.

While more needs to be done for the Muslim minority in West Bengal and, indeed, all over India, it is important to set the record straight. At a time when incorrect data are being used as part of a propaganda offensive against the Left Front government, this has become even more essential.

(Maidul Islam is a D.Phil candidate in Politics at Brasenose College, University of Oxford. Subhashini Ali is a Central Committee member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist)

Govt has not done enough: Switzerland’s Ambassador

Aniek Paul, LIVEMINT, Posted: Tue, Mar 29 2011. 1:00 AM IST

Switzerland’s ambassador to India, Philippe Welti, said India has not done enough to obtain information from his country’s banks on money laundering despite the public outrage over it.

It was not “fair” to see Swiss lenders as protecting criminals by not co-operating with Indian law enforcement agencies, Welti said on Monday.

India must file “legitimate requests” with Swiss authorities for banks to release data on illegitimate money allegedly stashed away in numbered accounts, he said. “Check with your government how many requests have been filed,” Welti said. “I don’t want to say more.”

He dismissed claims made in Parliament and in petitions filed with courts that up to $1.43 trillion (`64 trillion) of black money was stashed away in Swiss banks. “The figure is unimaginable, it is a complete fantasy,” he said.

Swiss banking secrecy laws are not intended to “protect criminals” and “commercial profits” from being taxed, Welti said. But for India to gain access to data, it must file requests with some evidence in support of its claim. “We aren’t asking governments to prove the charges; we are only asking them to make the claim plausible,” he said.

Earlier Switzerland would readily share data on “tax frauds” such as money laundering. Under a treaty signed with India in August, which is to be ratified by the Swiss parliament “within weeks”, even tax evasions qualify for “data release”, according to Welti.

“But here we aren’t talking about tax evasion only, we are talking about tax frauds such as money laundering,” Welti said, undermining the Indian government’s argument that Swiss authorities weren’t willing to share data from its banks under the double-taxation treaty.

To illustrate Swiss authorities took proactive steps in seizing illegitimate money, Welti said his government had already “blocked” the assets of Hosni Mubarak, the deposed president of Egypt, “anticipating claims from successors” who form a “legitimate government”.

Under an ongoing investigation, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been claiming businessmen Hasan Ali Khan and Kashinath Tapuriah have accounts in Swiss banks, and at least one of them has been blocked by the Swiss authorities because around $300 million came from the world’s most notorious arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi with a tag from the remitting US bank saying “proceeds from arms sale”.

Officials of the directorate, which investigates economic crime, have made several trips to Switzerland in the past four years and have requested Swiss authorities to release data from the bank accounts of Khan and Tapuriah.

Defending the Swiss government, Welti said it wouldn’t entertain requests filed by investigating agencies such as the ED, income-tax department and the Central Bureau of Investigation. Such requests must be routed through the government under “procedures decided in the treaty” signed in August, he said.

Swiss envoy rubbishes $1.43 tn black money claim

By Sougata Mukhopadhyay

CNN-IBN, Updated Mar 29, 2011 at 08:41am IST

Kolkata: In an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN, Swiss Ambassador Philippe Welti has rubbished India's claim that trillions of dollars are stashed away in Swiss banks.

Embarrassing the Government India, Welti has alleged that the Centre has not done enough to get information on money laundering.

The Government hasn't filed a single application in a proper manner agreed upon by the two governments in its double taxation treaty to access such data.

"All that the Indian government needs to do is to apply in a proper manner as per rules agreed upon by the two governments," said Welti.

The earlier treaty has been revised and under the new treaty the Swiss government would part with data on not only cases of tax frauds (which was agreed upon in the old treaty) but also on tax evasions.

"We have had a many years of treaty which allows the data to release on request is cases, for example tax frauds. Now the good news is that we have negotiated together with India, revision of tax treaty which allows in the future also release of data in cases of tax evasion and this is being ratified very soon it will be implemented. If you have good case sufficient evidence and you can designate the person or the bank account or can even have the cases where the bank account is good enough even you do not have the name. So things have in fact become easier," the Swiss Ambassador said.

As per rules, the Indian Government needs to have a prima facie case against the person who it suspects to have resorted to tax fraud/evasion. Even a particular bank account number would suffice in case of absence of a name.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax Department (IT) or the CBI cannot get access to information directly from any Swiss bank. The request has to come from the proper channel, that is from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to the Swiss Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Talking on the claim made by the ED, IT and the CBI that they have visited Switzerland, have requested for data and information from Swiss banks but they have failed to receive any information, Welti said, "If such agencies have tried and were unsuccessful and I was not aware of that my tentative answer that they probably tried that but that is against the bank rules. It has to go from one government to the other and the channel for the communication is the foreign ministries."

On the issue of $1.43 trillion black money figure quoted in the Indian Parliament that's supposedly stashed away in Swiss accounts, Welty said, "That figure is known to me because it has been repeated to me many times by journalists, who copy each other. The figure is pure fantasy."