The Mamata government claims they have got rid of the ‘Bandh culture’ perpetuated by the previous government. The government of course took tough stand against ‘anti-government’ bandh but there’s no guarantee yet that the government itself will not call for bandh in near future.
As chances of landing a job in the organized sector are slim or almost non-existent, there has been a constant rise in vocations which largely survive on political patronage. And that is why dalals and thikadaars (contractors) are ruling the roost in the unorganized sector. We have seen the birth of these dalals and thikadaars during the Left front government. But the previous government could control them even slightly because of its organizational discipline. During the regime of the current government, however, the syndicate Raj has wielded stupendous power. Neither the party and nor police or the administration has any control over this syndicate Raj. Just the other day, a well known Trinamool leader publicly said the government would itself be uprooted if it tries to remove this syndicate Raj. Such is the unprecedented and fearsome power of the syndicate Raj. As it is, a huge amount of black money is poured into real estate. And since there had been no investment in industry in Bengal for decades, use of black money in the real estate goes unchecked.
The uncontrolled syndicate has given rise to a kind of Jangal Raj in urban and semi-urban areas across the state. And this has led to mindless murders, rape, building of illicit liquor shops, drug abuse, and reckless bike driving etc. Sadly enough, all this has been happening under the nose of the administration. If one dares open his or her mouth, he or she will be in serious trouble. Remember the young boy of Barasat who was brutally killed for raising voice against hooch dens.
Lakhs of rupees are doled out to clubs even though the state exchequer is sunk in huge debts. One can well understand why Mamata has given money to these local clubs. There is a definite aim behind this move. She never bothered when eyebrows were raised for frittering away money for such purpose. Besides, money was spent indiscriminately for holding several ‘utsavs’. All these should be seen as attempts to provide some kind of ‘jobs’ which are totally dependent on politics. This can be likened to ‘unemployment doles’ from the funds which remain unaccounted.
Mamata Banerjee’s style of administration has some unique aspects. She hasn’t kept bureaucrats within the four walls of Nabanna. She has held meetings in sub-divisional towns, bringing bureaucrats and people together. She has asked departmental secretary to explain what has been done and what remains to be done. She also admired or rebuked the bureaucrats openly for what they had done in front of the masses.
There’s no doubt such method of functioning helped masses to get closer to the government functioning. The Trinamool poll manifesto claims that such method has accelerated the pace of government functioning. But, such style of functioning has perpetuated a strange type of centralization of government work. No work has been divided on the basis of administrative levels; there’s no definite pattern of who will do what and who is accountable to whom. Because one single person (read Mamata) will decide who is wrong or who is right. There is no one else whose comments matter.
One important aspect of centralization of administrative work is that Mamata herself is overseeing the local work. Neither BDOs nor local Panchayat are authorized to do that. Even the minister or secretary of the concerned department has no say on this. Not that there is only complete centralization of administrative power; in most cases which should have been done by local panchayats are now given to BDOs, SDOs or DMs. It is being argued that panchayats lack administrative skill and they are sunk in corruption and that’s why those works have been bestowed on BDOs and SDOs.
(To be continued)