Tripura CPI-M leader sacked over bed of money

Agartala, Oct 20 (IANS) The ruling CPI-M in Tripura expelled a local leader, Samar Acharjee, after he was caught on a mobile phone camera napping on bundles of Indian currency notes in fulfilment of a "long-cherished dream", party leaders said Sunday.

A local television channel Thursday telecast the 55-year-old Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)leader lying on several bundles of notes, worth about Rs.20 lakh, at his home in Bankumari on the outskirts of state capital Agartala.

Acharjee, a small time contractor, took up government work on contract basis in partnership with others.

"Acharjee's actions were against the communist ideology and principles. His deeds badly affected the image of the party. Hence, he was expelled from the party and removed from all posts he has been holding," CPI-M's Dukli divisional committee secretary Subrata Chakraborty told reporters.

"The party leaders, before taking disciplinary action, heard the views of Acharjee and examined his bank balance and other assets. He has no immovable assets except his ancestral home. Acharjee told us that his wife has Rs 2,28,000 in the bank," Chakraborty said.

Quoting Acharjee, Chakraborty said that he had been engaged in constructing low cost sanitary latrines for households on the outskirts of Agartala. He had recently drawn Rs.15,12,060 from the bank (sanctioned by the government authority) to disburse among four partners including himself.

"Before taking the final decision to push out Acharjee, we held a series of meetings in the presence of senior leaders including the party's central committee member Khagen Das," Chakraborty said, adding that the CPI-M would never protect leaders or members engaged in immoral practices.

The CPI-M initiated disciplinary action against Acharjee soon after a local television channel aired the video of the leader on a bed of money.

"Recently, I got Rs.20 lakh against pending bills of Rs.70 lakh from the government for constructing sanitary latrines in the Agartala Municipal Council areas. I've had the dream of lying on currency notes," Acharjee told an anonymous person who caught the action on camera.

The incident is reported to have occurred Oct 10 and was aired on TV Thursday and reported in local newspapers Friday.

On the video aired on TV, Acharjee was seen saying: "I am a rich man now. I am not a hypocrite like other party members who depict themselves as proletariat though they have huge amount of money."

CPI-M state secretary Bijan Dhar said the party could not support such immorality.

Opposition Congress leader Ratan Lal Nath, Trinamool Congress state president Surajit Datta and other opposition leaders have demanded a judicial probe into the incident and the arrest of Acharjee.

"The incident shows just how corrupt the CPI-M party members are. It is established that CPI-M leaders made a huge amount of money by misusing public funds," Nath told reporters.

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