Mamata knows her men take bribes: Bengal minister

A disgruntled member of Mamata Banerjee's ministry in West Bengal today said Trinamool Congress cadres are engaged in extortion and Chief Minister Banerjee knows about it but is deliberately looking the other way. He also alleged that party leaders are involved in cash-for-job rackets.

The minister, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, played a key role in Mamata Banerjee's Singur agitation. His allegations come days after he was shunted from the agriculture ministry to the low key statistics and programme implementation department.

"Mamata Banerjee is claiming her party won't be involved in extortion. But party cadres are extorting money from people before my very eyes," the septuagenarian lawmaker from Singur told a Bengali news channel.

"I believe she (Banerjee) knows about all these," said Bhattacharya. "In my area some leaders holding responsible posts have taken money from candidates who had applied for two vacant posts in a school. This has pained me," he said.

The retired headmaster was Mamata's trusted aide during the 2007 agitation in Singur area where Tata Motors' Nano car plant was under construction. The Singur movement against the Left Front's acquisition of farm land for setting up the car plant played a key role in the TMC victory in last year's elections.

The minister's comments come close on the heels of the chief minister's claim that she did not need "cut money" or bribe money to run her party.