Mamata Banerjee's austerity call: Don't use make-up, travel by rickshaws

Mamata BanerjeeDidi, who is known for her spartan lifestyle, expects the same from her party people. (Reuters)

* Don't put on garish make-up.

* Don't wear costly sarees or expensive garments.

* Travel by van rickshaws or cycle rickshaws, avoid motor-bikes, cars.

* Spend discreetly in your son's or daughter's marriage, don't show off.

* If somebody falls ill seriously, arrange for his or her hospitalisation immediately.

In the cash-strapped West Bengal, austerity is the new mantra, at least for the newly elected panchayat pradhans, anchal pradhans and zilla parishad members who owe allegiance to Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress.

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Didi, who is known for her spartan lifestyle, expects the same from her party people and has sent these directives to the newly elected panchayat members presumably with a view to stem the rot that has already set in in the party, and which is believed to have caused loss of a considerable number of seats.

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The directives were delivered to the elected representatives of the panchayats during the district-level meetings last week.

Other directives include helping people obtain caste certificates, OBC certificates, helping people in approaching the police and rushing the needy to the hospitals.

"We lost quite a few seats as people turned away from us, as there are some in the party who indulge in corrupt practices. People now think that if these people start looting the panchyats, what will happen after three years,'' an anchal Pradhan in North-24 Parganas district told The Indian Express.

In the panchayat elections, while the TMC made a clean sweep, it lost some seats in areas where it had considerable influence. It had bagged 13 out of 17 zilla parishads, 163 of 210 panchayat samitis and 1,455 out of 3,215 gram panchayat seats.

"There were areas, at least in my district, where we could have done better. But in some other areas, some black sheep have sneaked in, who are out to tarnish the party's and Didi's image.

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