Calcutta HC’s order on DA arrears puts Trinamool Congress on backfoot

The Calcutta High Court’s order on Thursday morning dismissing the West Bengal government’s review petition for reconsidering the earlier decision of the court to clear the Dearness Allowance (DA) arrears within three months has pushed the ruling Trinamool Congress in the backfoot.

While the state government is yet to make it clear on whether they will approach the Supreme Court against the order of the division bench of the Calcutta High Court, Trinamool Congress leader have started describing the non-payment of DA arrears as the state government’s financial constraints rather than an intentional abandonment.

Some ruling Trinamool Congress leaders even claimed that non-payment of the central dues to the state government is posing financial hurdles for the state government as a result of which the latter is unable to shell out funds for certain necessary expenses.

According to senior Trinamool Congress leader and three-time Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy, the non-payment of DA arrears pains him a lot. “But I want to say that non-payment is nothing deliberate. The state government is really going through a tough financial state with little reserves and that is why it is unable to pay the arrears now,” Roy said on Thursday soon after the division bench of the Calcutta High Court dismissed the review petition.

The leader of the opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee considers DA as a charity and not the legitimate right of the state government employees. “That is why the chief minister once advised the state government employees not to bark or mew in demand of the DA. But the Calcutta High Court has made it clear that DA is the legitimate right and not any proceeds of charity,’ he said.

According to the Trinamool Congress’s state general secretary and the party spokesman Kunal Ghosh, the less the BJP speaks about “legitimate dues’, the better it is. “A massive amount of Rs 1,00,000 crore of central dues is yet to be received by the state government. The Calcutta High Court has passed an order and the state government will decide its next course of action. But BJP has no right to resort to mudslinging on the issue,” Ghosh said.

Shyamal Kumar Mitra, the president of the Confederation of State Government Employees, which is the original petitioner in the matter, claimed that since the beginning the target of the current state government had been how to delay the payment of DA arrears. “But they will not be able to delay it for a long time further. While the state government is delaying DA payments, it is so benevolent in granting doles to community Durga Puja committees,” he said.

Saugata Roy said that the DA payment and donation to the community puja committees should be compared since the money spent behind the latter is nothing compared to that of DA payments. “I do not think that at this juncture the state government has no other option now but to approach the Supreme Court of India in the matter,” he said.

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