And finally, the third group is that of people in rural Bengal, where agriculture is the main profession. But 90% of farmers have small lands on which the yield is just enough for them to survive. All these three groups are heavily dependent on government support.
All these three groups are heavily dependent on government support. Informal workers need government permission to operate in the city. Small-scale business owners are dependent on the government because they need protection against the mafia and gundas. And farmers in rural Bengal need government welfare support and subsidies because they would not be able to live off or earn much from their lands This has created a society in Bengal that is heavily reliant on its government.
Even as the left government fell in 2011. People are distributing sweets and they say that this change was much awaited this system in Bengal stayed in place. Mamata Banerjee also accepted this system and made use of it. But Mamata Banerjee spotted a problem. Trinamool Congress realized that people would only remain dependent on the government if the government had a strong cadre of
workers who would help people. for example, help in distributing welfare schemes in
rural areas and ensuring protection from goons. The left government could easily get such a cadre because it is a cadre-based party, while TMC is not. Cadre-based parties attract people to work for their parties easily because these parties have a strong ideology. Like Communist Party attracts people who believe in the thoughts of Karl Marx and worker rights Or BJP has a strong ideology of Hindutva. since they attract people because of their policies and not because of their ideologies.
So when TMC came to power, it didn’t have people who would work for her, But it sure had one thing: Money minting techniques. This was a technique by which they could maintain the government’s dependency on people. In urban and semi-urban areas it used a system called Syndicate. And in rural areas in used the system called Cut Money.
A syndicate is a group of young people associated with the ruling party. TMC started grooming groups of syndicates in a locality near Kolkata around 20 years ago. Initially, Syndicates were used to help unemployed people find jobs. But in 2008 Mamata Banerjee won her first Panchayat election and the role of Syndicates changed. They started catering to these two groups of people. They started to extort money from the informal workers to allow them to drive their rickshaws or run their shops, and from small business owners, they would extort money to ensure protection against gangs and mafias.
TMC would gain two things from its network of syndicates: first, the leaders of TMC would receive a share of the extorted money, and second, whenever elections near, these syndicates would become useful for TMC in several ways To set up on the ground logistics and to intimidate and threaten opposition voters.
“TMC goons attacked his convoy in West Midnapur,
breaking windows and attacking his personal staff as well…”
So, this was the system of Syndicates In rural areas, the system is a bit different. “Cut Money” System Cut money is basically when local party workers in rural areas ask for fees. You may ask fees for what? A fee for availing of the welfare schemes of the government.
According to an Indian Express report, there is a fixed rate for most of the schemes. Like, in the Samabyathi scheme, which provides financial assistance of up to Rs 2,000 for the last rites of the deceased, Rs 200 is taken as “cut money” fee To build a house under Indira Aawas Yojna,
10 to 15 thousand rupees are charged. And to construct a toilet under Nirmal Bangla Scheme,
two thousand Rupees has to be paid. Now why do people pay for such schemes when these
welfare schemes should be distributed free of cost? And they are the ones that have to pay the fees?
There could be two reasons:
First is a lack of awareness that they have to pay no fees at all Many people think that this is an installation or subscription fee to avail the welfare schemes. Like a woman in Hoogly paid 550 Rupees for installing a gas connection under Ujjwala Yojna to local TMC workers because she thought it was an installation fee.
The second reason is that many times people don’t really have an option. Either you give some money and use the scheme If you don’t pay money, you cannot use the scheme. There is no other option
If we see, the impacts of syndicate and cut money are different. Because in urban areas, whereas the syndicate system troubles the informal workers and small businessmen. it also demotivates industries from setting up in Bengal. At the same time, in Rural areas, paying for welfare
schemes has become a habit of the people. ven during the left government, many party workers
charged a fee for distribution of such schemes. Even though industry in Bengal is struggling, its agriculture growth is better than all India’s average.But the problem for Bengal is that unfortunately, its
economy is not just dependent on agriculture. In fact, more than 80% of Bengal’s GDP is now dependent on the manufacturing and service sectors. which are in Urban and semi-urban areas. But the complication is that when it comes to voters, 70% of Bengal still lives in rural areas.
And whoever cracks rural Bengal, rules Bengal. This is why during the last elections we saw that in seats that had a large number of low-income farmers TMC was far ahead than BJP.
This cut-money system was the reason why people are dependent on the TMC to a large extent and believe that they are able to avail such services only because of Trinamool And not only the voters, this system also ensures that party workers remain loyal to TMC. Because for most of them, this is their only source of income. Now, it is not only because of these systems that Mamata Banerjee is popular.
A lot of people believe that she came to power because of her stance against Land Acquisition in 2011. In 2021, she was able to defeat the BJP because of women’s votes and her pro-Bangla stance. But besides this, it is for sure that the Syndicate and the cut money system are set up by the TMC. is, to a large extent, responsible for the popularity of Mamata.
The more this system flourishes, the more people would become dependent on TMC due to which this system would continue to grow stronger.