While the Opposition parties in West Bengal presented a united face in welcoming the Calcutta High Court decision cancelling former minister Madan Mitra’s bail, the Congress questioned why the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has “restricted its investigations” in the Saradha chit fund scam to probing the involvement of only one senior Trinamool Congress leader.
“It seems that the CBI is only concerned with Madan Mitra and has drawn a barrier. Why isn’t the probe progressing beyond Mitra? I don’t believe Mitra is the only one in the ruling TMC who is involved in the scam. Is someone pulling the strings from behind the curtains to restrict the investigation from reaching (Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee?,” asked state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury.
The Congress had earlier accused the TMC of warming up to the BJP in the hopes that the Centre will ask the CBI to go easy with its probe in the Saradha scam in which several ruling party members have been questioned.
Veteran Congress leader Abdul Mannan, who played a key role in filing a petition on which the SC eventually directed the CBI to probe the scam, said Mitra, to prove that he won’t influence the investigation, had tried to hoodwink the high court by resigning from the state cabinet. The court, however, saw through the ploy, Mannan said.
“There is a renewed hope in people’s mind of getting their money back. Mitra had occupied the presidential suite (at the SSKM Hospital) for a long time, feigning illness, but now that he is not a minister, if he gets similar facilities again, we might consider legal action,” the Congress leader said.
Mannan said that the verdict proves that “those who have committed crime will have to pay for their sins. Those who have looted the money of poor people need to return the money”.
BJP secretary Siddarth Nath Singh said the CBI appealing for the cancellation of bail proves that there has been no ‘match-fixing’ between TMC and BJP as alleged by the Opposition. “The opposition has been alleging that there is under-the-wraps friendship between BJP and TMC. But the truth has come out today,” Singh said.
Taking a dig at Mamata, Singh said, “Now that the High Court has cancelled Mitra’s bail, I will like to ask he if she will reinstate him”.
Mamata had earlier refused to accept the resignation sent by Mitra soon after he was arrested by the CBI last year.
Lauding the probe agency, state BJP president Rahul Sinha said, “The high court should order a probe into how the bail was granted by the lower court.”
Reacting on the recent events, CPM state secretary and Leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra said Mitra has received a double whammy. “Last night he lost his ministry and today his bail was rejected. The state and the central government has to ensure that the looted hard earned money of the common man in the Saradha scam is returned to them at the earliest,” he said.
CPM MP Mohammed Selim accused Mitra of taking all advantages of being a minister over the past one year during his stay at SSKM Hospital as well as when he was under home arrest, and demanded a probe to be ordered into it.
TMC leaders, however, distanced themselves from making any comment regarding this. “Since the matter is sub-judice I should not be commenting,” said state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim.