Intensifying the tension between the Centre and the state government further, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sought a report from Bengal government over alleged collection of cut money from Trinamul Congress cadres that was reported by BJP MP Locket Chatterjee in Parliament.

In a letter dated 9 July to the state chief secretary, the ministry stated that it is forwarding a copy of the Notice raised during the ‘Zero Hour’ by Ms Chatterjee regarding “excessive collection of cut money” by Trinamul Congress cadres. “Since law and order are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, it is requested to send a report in the matter to this Ministry….in order to send a copy to the MP and to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs,” stated the letter.

The state has been witnessing incidents of protests ever since chief minister Mamata Banerjee directed her party leaders to return ‘cut money’ taken from beneficiaries of government schemes. To bring the situation under control, the state government has formed a monitoring committee to probe into complaints related to cut money, which has received 5931 complaints of which 60 per cent have been addressed till now.

The administration has requested people to inform the committee about complaints relating to cut money instead of taking the law in their own hands. This fresh communication by the Amit Shah-led ministry may turn out to be the latest flashpoint between the Bengal government and the Centre which has already sought separate reports from the state government on last month’s doctors’ strike in Bengal and measures taken to contain political violence and investigate such incidents of violence.

While seeking the report on political violence, MHA had also stressed that the incidents of political violence in Bengal increased from 509 in 2016 to 1035 in 2018. As many as 773 incidents have already occurred in 2019 till date.

Correspondingly, the death toll rose from 36 in 2016 to 96 in 2018 while 26 deaths have already taken place in 2019 till date, it noted. Miss Banerjee, however, rubbished the Centre’s claims of poor law and order situation in the state saying MHA should send such advisories to states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat where “several murders have been reported in the last couple of years”.