Pushed on the backfoot with the Supreme Court ordering a CBI inquiry into the Saradha chit fund scam —- something that she had been vehemently refusing —- West Bengal Chief Minister Friday tried to present a brave face against the opposition onslaught even as she sought to turn the tide in her favour by saying that she wanted to return the money to the investors but cannot now.
“I was returning the money to the poor from the government fund…The onus of returning the investors’ money now should rest on the CBI. Let the CBI return it,” Mamata said while campaigning for her party in Berhampore.
The Mamata Banerjee government had formed a one-man commission of enquiry of Justice (retd) Shyamal Sen and set up a corpus of Rs 500 crore to pay back the investors, numbering into lakhs. Stating that chit funds were governed by the Centre and not the state, Mamata said, “Who governs chit funds? It is not under the state government but the central government. Why did you sleep for 30 years? Why did you keep silent during CPM rule (in Bengal)? This is my complaint.”
She also brushed aside the judgement having any political ramifications for her party coming as it does just two days ahead of the last round of polling in Lok Sabha elections on May 12. The fate of 17 seats, including some of the closely contested, will be decided in the final and round in Bengal.
“They (the Opposition) are thinking that the CBI enquiry was ordered just two days before before the election. What does it matter to me? Truth will come out. Fire cannot be covered with ashes,” she They have said whatever they wanted to”, she said.
The opposition has alleged that Trinamool Congress had close links with Sudipta Sen, chairman of the now bust Saradha Group. At Nabanna, the state secretariat, state finance minister Amit Mitra, talking to media, also highlighted the fact the TMC government has already compensated more than 400,000 investors a portion of their lost investment and would have made payments to another 250,000 but for the SC verdict. “CM had announced (to return the money) before the model code of conduct came into force. Show me one example of this gesture of returning money to such a huge number of investors at any part in India. We have heard about chit fund scams to the tune of over Rs 45,000 crore in Punjab and Haryana. But what is the result?” he asked.
Mitra, however, questioned the timing of the verdict. “There is certainly space for reading politics into it…But we still welcome it,” he said even as he put a question mark on the effectiveness of a CBI probe.
“The CBI in is entrusted with the investigation of several other cases in Bengal like Netai massacre in Junglemahal, continued…