India bribe refund diktat sees residents attack politicians


New Delhi
Indians in West Bengal state are attacking politicians for a rather unusual reason – they are demanding that bribes they paid be refunded.
The state’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, had told ministers to return money paid to them by citizens who wanted to access government schemes.
Soon after, a local leader’s home was “raided” by residents on Monday who wanted their money back, police said.
Now similar incidents are being reported across the state.
“The money they have taken… they will have to return it to the victims. We will teach these leaders a lesson,” a protester told the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS).
Bribery is fairly common in Indian politics, but this scenario is unexpected,
Reports of protests organised across the state are coming in every day, our correspondent adds.
Banerjee, a hugely popular and fiery leader, first came to power in 2011.
But there is some indication that her popularity has been waning in recent months which correspondents say, has left her completely rattled.
It could be that this latest statement is an attempt to regain some of the ground she lost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recently concluded general election.
Her party won only 22 of West Bengal’s 42 seats – a big drop from the 32 she won in 2014 – in an election marred by reports of death and violence.
Since then, she has been taunted by supporters of the BJP which has even led to arrests of people who shouted Hindu religious chants as her convoy passed.