People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 32

August 09, 200

RAJASTHAN

 

Congress, BJP Mar Pro-People Schemes with Corruption

 

B L Singhvi

 

IT goes without saying that corruption and scandals are an integral part of the capitalist system where the rich, and those aspiring to be rich, are engaged in all kinds of dirty tricks to make a fortune overnight. Yet, one could definitely expect some curb on corruption when the prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, known as Mr Clean, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and the Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot all keep ranting against corruption and, at the same time, the BJP keeps talking of probity, character and sacrifices. However, what we see in the tribal areas of Rajasthan, and in particular in the Udaipur division, is just the opposite and the leaders and workers of both these parties are engaged here in an open, mutual competition of minting money.  

 

FRAUD IN A

SELF-HELP GROUP

The situation is such that the corrupt are depriving the genuine beneficiaries of their due benefits in whatever pro-people schemes the central and the state governments had had to initiate under the pressure of the masses and the Left. The panchayat related schemes, self-help groups (SHGs), the tribal rights legislation, the rural employment guarantee scheme, the loan waivers for the peasants, the bank loan schemes for the unemployed --- all are suffering the same fate.

For example, the scheme of self-help groups are meant for women of the families below poverty line (BPL), but it has become a cruel joke for the tribal women of Rajasthan. In Lathuni   

(Dharawan) village panchayat of the tribal preponderant Jhadol tehsil of Udaipur, several women joined an SHG, got a passbook each and deposited their due contribution on a regular basis. Some of these women are (1) Bhanwari, wife of Narsa, (2) Rami, wife of Dola Darangi, (3) Meera, wife of Nana Lal Dama, (4) Mani, wife of  Amrit Lal Darangi, (5) Haluri, wife of  Ratan Lal Lattha, (6) Kavi, wife of Shankar Lal, (7) Prem Devi, wife of Dharmi Lal, (8) Kamla Devi, wife of Kadwa Ram, (9) Ailasi, wife of Prakashchandra, and (10) Dharmibai, wife of Babu Lal Darangi. The secretary of this group was Prem Devi, wife of Kamalesh Rania who is a local Congress leader, while Anganwadi supervisor Lalita Devi, wife of Jayanti Lal Meghwal, and officials of the Maanpur branch of Punjab National Bank (PNB), were also attached to this SHG. Prem Devi is an Anganwadi worker and also a Congress activist.

The fraud perpetrated by these latter people was like this. In collusion with Lalita Devi and the PNB officials, Prem Devi forged the signatures of several women, and got a loan from the said PNB branch for the SHG she is supposed to serve. Understandably, there must have been no one to verify the signatures as the PNB officials were also involved in this fraud and conspiracy. Then, showing this loan amount as the seed money, these people received from the state government a grant which is equal to half of the seed money under the SHG scheme. Then they returned to the bank the loan that they had contracted, and pocketed the grant money amounting to lakhs of rupees. Members of the SHG did not have an inkling of this fraud.

When the members of the SHG came to know about this fraud, they brought it to the notice of Anop Lal, a CPI(M) worker. But the bank manager and the cashier refused to talk anything about it when Anop Lal contacted them for the required information. Then he brought it to the notice of CPI(M) district secretary B L Singhvi. Though the latter had approached the deputy inspector general of the Vigilance Department, district collector and the district planning officer by June 30, no action has as yet been taken. The district collector’s reply at that time smacked of callousness, while others had assured of action.

Similarly, a complaint was sent to the chief minister and its copies were sent to various newspapers, but to no avail. The newspapers coming out from Udaipur have not written a single word about this bungling, though they too were contacted about it. No government department has moved a finger either. Congress leaders are now in the game of suppressing the whole thing.

This is the story of just one self-help group, and there is reason to believe that bungling is going on in other SHGs as well. On the other hand, total inaction from the government side is making the beneficiaries indifferent about the ongoing frauds. But the CPI(M) is planning to initiate an agitation on this issue.

 

FRAUD IN NREGA,

OTHER SCHEMES

However, various newspapers have printed and are printing the news of bungling in the rural employment guarantee scheme, and most of the panchayat bodies involved have sarpanchas belonging to the Congress or the BJP. Their modus operandi is that they get fake muster rolls prepared in collusion with the panchayat secretaries and thus appropriate a part of the wages that come from the government for the NREGA workers. When, for example, the muster roll in the Mawli panchayat was examined, it was found that persons currently working in Mumbai or Surat have been enrolled as NREGA workers and their wages are being pocketed by the sarpanch and the panchayat secretary.

Similarly, ration dealers keep most of the coupons with themselves instead of passing them over to the ration cardholders. Occasionally, they give a small amount of food grains, sugar or kerosene oil to the common people, and sell a large part of these commodities in the black market. Leaders of the two major parties are their protectors in this bungling.

The act relating to the tribal people’s rights over the forests was implemented in Rajasthan when the BJP was in power here. At that time, the BJP as well as Congress workers made a lot of money by selling to the tribals the official allotment forms. The state government stipulated that it was necessary for a tribal to fill up this form in order to claim his rights. Though these forms were declared to be free of cost, workers of these two parties made them a source of their income. The state government formed village committees under the act, but they were stuffed with BJP and Congress workers arbitrarily; not a single meeting was called for constituting a village committee. Many of the committees sold the printed forms to raddiwalas; several others refused to accept the filled-up forms from the tribals and the latter had to deposit their forms in the panchayat samities. Later, on coming to power, the Congress state government declared that camps would be organised at the panchayat level for the allotment of land pattas. But such camps have not been organised in several areas, and corruption is rampant in the camps wherever they have been organised. Not a single tribal has so far received a land patta.       

But the biggest irony is that a sizeable section of the media is seeking to cover up such cases of corruption and some of the media institutions are even resorting to a disinformation drive about West Bengal, where in fact the panchayati raj system, Self-Help Groups and other such institutions have to an extent brought a change in the life of the common people for the better.