Bengal government now 'welcomes' CBI probe in Saradha scam
Having strongly resisted for months pleas to hand over the Saradha chit fund scam probe to the CBI, the West Bengal government Friday "welcomed" the Supreme Court judgement entrusting the investigation to the federal agency, but noted the decision comes "just two days" before the final round of Lok Sabha polls in the state.
Finance and Industries Minister Amit Mitra also demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation scanner should cover the CPI-M mouthpiece Ganashakti which "has been receiving funds from Saradha in the form of ads".
He also hoped the agency would also "shed some light" on the Sanchayita chit fund scam that happened in the 1980s during the erstwhile Left Front regime.
"West Bengal Government welcomes the Supreme Court judgment on Saradha scam," Mitra, also the Trinamool Congress spokesman, told media persons here.
"The decision of the SC comes just two days before polls," he said referring to the final round of Lok Sabha elections in the state May 12 covering 17 constituencies.
While complaining that the CBI has failed to do "justice" to cases like the Netai carnage of 2011 and the 2007 Nandigram firing, Mitra hoped the agency would be "successful" in probing the Saradha muddle.
He claimed the apex court entrusted the probe to CBI because investigation has to be carried out in other countries, and the Special Investigation Team formed by the state government did not have the legal right to conduct a probe in other states or nations.
"We hope the probe by the CBI will be free and fair and justice will be done to all the people duped by Saradha," said Mitra.
He iterated Saradha was founded in 2006 when the Communist Party of India-Marxist led Left Front was in power, and demanded the CBI probe "all chit funds, not just Saradha, across India".
Assailing the CPI-M, Mitra said he has tabled in the state assembly pictures of CPI-M leaders holding hands with Saradha bosses at several events.
Mitra said the state government arrested its own MP and fully refunded four lakh people who had lost their money by depositing it in the Saradha group companies.
"Nowhere in the world has a commission ever been made to return money to people duped by ponzi schemes. 2.5 lakh people more will get money back after the election code of conduct ends," he said.
Mitra said the state government had also brought a bill in the assembly to act against chit funds and sent it to the central government for presidential assent.
"The centre is still sitting over our Bill. They have to answer why they are doing so," he added.
"We do not know of any amount of money having been returned to the investors of Sanchayita. What action did the Left Front take against Saradha, after it was founded in 2006?" he asked.
In a setback to the state's Mamata Banerjee government, the Supreme Court Friday handed over the Saradha chit fund probe to the CBI, saying the investigation by the West Bengal Police did not make any headway in inter-state ramification of the scam.
(Posted on 09-05-2014)