KOLKATA: Faced with statewide protests outside residences of a number of its leaders over the issue of "cut money", the TMC on Sunday accused the media of misreporting recent interactions between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the elected representatives of the party.
It said "99.99 per cent" of party functionaries were hard-working and committed to work for the benefit of the people.
TMC leaders at the municipal and panchayat levels have been facing public ire in the districts of Birbhum, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Burdwan, Malda, Purulia, Nadia, West Midnapore and Bankura.
"A certain section of media is misreporting on the recently-held interactions between the chairperson of the Trinamool Congress (Mamata) with party functionaries and the elected representatives," TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee said in a statement.
"The chairperson reiterated her advice for them to work tirelessly for the welfare of the people and ensure that all funds allocated for public welfare schemes are utilised in the most productive manner possible," Chatterjee said.
The leader alleged that some people from different political parties were sullying the name of the TMC by indulging in corruption and unfair practices, adding that they would will be dealt with severely.
Chatterjee said only a few members from panchayats and municipalities had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party because of their "ulterior motives and vested interests".
"They have done this with the hope that their misdeeds and crimes will be washed away," he said.
TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen, too, has recently faced allegations of seeking "cut money" from a realtor in north Kolkata.
Sen has denied the accusation as "baseless and politically-motivated" to malign his reputation.
Banerjee had warned party leaders that those involved in taking "cut money" from government schemes and other corrupt practices would be put behind bars.
"Our party supremo has warned us against getting involved in corruption and told us to return cut money if we had taken any from the people.
She has told us if anyone is found seeking cut money to provide benefits from government schemes, he or she will be arrested," a senior TMC leader said.
At a recent meeting with TMC councillors, Banerjee had said: "I do not want to keep thieves in my party.
If I take action they will join some other party.
Some leaders are claiming 25-per cent commission for providing housing grants to the poor.
This should stop immediately.
Return the money if any of you have taken it."
Her diktat did not go down well with the rank and file of the party as several councillors and party leaders questioned the directive.
"It's a sort of insult. If we had taken any cut money then we had also given a major chunk of it to top party leaders. What about that? Will they also return that money?" asked a senior TMC leader from Nadia district.
Trinamool Congress MP Satabdi Roy said Banerjee should have initiated measures to stop the practice much earlier.
"A person who has taken cut money directly is only the front man. There are others who are behind him. They have also taken their share. So the money has to be returned according to this chain," Roy had said.
The BJP, Congress and the CPI(M) had mocked the ruling party over the protests and said the "corruption of TMC leaders" was now out in open.
"It was a well-known open secret that the TMC seeks cut money and commission. Now, the masses are protesting against it," BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.
Congress state president Somen Mitra demanded that all the TMC leaders, including elected representatives, should make public the amount of assets they have.