A sting operation conducted by India Today has revealed the shocking nexus between the ruling Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee and government officials with the notorious syndicates in West Bengal. The sting operation conducted by the India Today network has shed light on the thriving ‘syndicate raj’ under the alleged patronage of the Mamata Banerjee.
In the sting video, it can be clearly seen that Soumen Banerjee, husband of Bidhannagar TMC councillor Swati Banerjee and also a syndicate operative, is caught on camera while explaining the nature of the system and working of the ‘syndicate raj’. Banerjee says, “If you protest, it will lead to a bigger problem and vandalism. They are very dangerous people. Their boss is a very big leader of West Bengal. He might become an MLA. He will have everything vandalised. Lockdown or shell out Rs 10 lakh”. In the video, Banerjee along with another syndicate operative Rana Basu demands money from the reporter in return to allow the opening of a restaurant. He also asks the reporter to pay Rs 25,000 to Rana Basu to conduct Durga Puja.
In a second sting, another TMC worker Sushanto Das, who is also a close aide of North Dum Dum’s TMC councillor Bidhan Biswas is seen boasting about his contacts in the TMC and threatening by saying that if somebody buys land from others, then they will create a ruckus. When the reporter questioned him about future interventions by others, he says, “This is our area. We manage everything from the chairman, councillors to building plans. You don’t have to worry about anything”.
This nexus runs deep as Das then went on to introduce his immediate boss Sujoy Das, who in turn takes India Today reporter to the office of Bidhan Biswas, a wealthy TMC councillor. The video clearly explains the modus operandi of the ‘syndicate raj’, where TMC councillor is seen saying that his share of profits would be recovered by selling building material and overseeing construction. His aide Sujoy Das said “Tell him [the reporter] that all construction work should be outsourced to us. That’s our profit. We will profit only if we supply the material”.
Allegedly, the government officials are also involved in this criminal nexus. Interestingly, Harinder Singh, chairman, Dum Dum Municipality, also insists people buy building material from the members of the syndicate. “Local youths (syndicates) would insist that you buy building material like sand and bricks from them. There won’t be any problem. Just assign the job to them,” said Singh.
Chandra Kumar Bose, Vice President of the West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party said, “Syndicates existed in Bengal earlier as well but in the unorganised sector. Now, they are in the organised sector. I had given credit to Mamata Banerjee for being Chief Minister of a syndicate raj, not of West Bengal”. CPI leader Dinesh Varshney said that if a corporator is asking a person how much money could he offer, it clearly shows it is by force. Anything which is done by force had political patronage”.
Syndicate Raj is the extortion racket which runs the real estate business in the state of West Bengal. A group of hooligans holds enormous control in the areas where the real estate business is thriving. The notorious and criminal ‘syndicates’ came into existence during the Communist government in the 90s, has now become extremely influential in the power structure.
These syndicates are alleged to have state patronage, exerts a complete monopoly over any kinds of construction. Every builder should purchase every construction material from bricks to cement to TMT bars to paints to tiles from these syndicates and also have to share a commission with them. Often the materials are of low quality, but they are sold at premium prices. They also have to hire workers from the syndicates only. This has been the reason for the construction of poor quality infrastructure in the state of West Bengal.