Alarmed by the way Congress MPs like Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and Adhir Chowdhury have gained ground in north Bengal districts by promoting development schemes, the CPM wanted panchayats to have full control over all developmental activities.
The RSP minister Kshiti Goswami and CPI minister Nandagopal Bhattacharya, however, did not accept CPM’s theory and put their foot down. They sensed that the move would affect their departments’ work as well since the CPM controls most of the panchayats in the state.
No department should be allowed to carry out any development work in the villages without the concurrence of the local panchayat, Mishra had suggested in his proposal. Alternatively, the department concerned should secure a green signal from Mishra’s Panchayat and Rural Development Department or the Cabinet, he had suggested.
The Cabinet had failed to discuss the proposal even last month, when it was first placed before it. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had asked Mishra to discuss the issue with Goswami, who is in charge of the Public Works Department, and get the issue settled. Mishra did not do so and put up the proposal again.
Sources close to Goswami said Mishra had called up the former on the eve of today’s Cabinet meeting and urged him to let it pass. Mishra had said the clearance would be a minor formality.
But Goswami did not accept this interpretation, pointing out that the proposal used the term “permission”. Permission cannot be interpreted as a formality, he had said.
CPI’s Nandogopal Bhattacharjya, state minister for minor irrigation, also backed Goswami in opposing Mishra’s proposal. Goswami told The Indian Express the other parties also wanted modification in the proposal.
Congress Legislature Party leader Manas Bhuniya, said though he had not sent the Cabinet’s proposal, it sounded typical of the CPM.
“This is the nature of the CPM. They want to grab everything,” he added.