Kolkata, Sep 2 IANS | 4 months ago

Amid questions raised over a reported tie-up between the IRCTC - a public sector enterprise under the railway ministry - and the Saradha Group in 2010, the Trinamool Congress Tuesday lashed out at the CBI, which is probing the chit fund muddle, and alleged that the probe agency functioned as a "political organisation".

"The Central Bureau of Investigation runs at somebody's directive. It works like a political organisation," said former railways minister and Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy, in an obvious reference to the central government.

"Earlier, we used to call it (CBI) the Congress Bureau of Investigation. Now, there has only been a regime change. But the CBI has not changed," Roy said.

Allegations recently surfaced that the Saradha Tours and Travels was favoured in getting a contract from the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for a tourism project.

According to reports, the IRCTC had inked a deal with the Saradha Group company for providing logistic support to the "Bharat Tirth" project announced in the 2010-11 railway budget by then minister Mamata Banerjee.

In a bid to promote tourism, the scheme envisaged launching 16 special 'Bharat Tirth' trains connecting popular tourist sites and pilgrimage centres in different parts of the country.

The reports said Saradha Tours and Travels was made the official partner for the 14 nights/15 days south India tour package comprising train fare, accommodation, food, transfers and sightseeing.

"The CBI is not an autonomous body. The CBI director has said that in the form of a court affidavit. Naturally, the CBI functions like a political organisation," Mukul Roy said.

Responding to a query to spell out the party's counter to opposition allegations that the Saradha group company was preferred for the project, Roy said he was unware of any such thing as the treaty was concluded before he took charge of the ministry.

However, he exuded confidence that the tie-up was forged through proper tendering.

A day ago, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said there was no need for his ministry to conduct a separate probe as the CBI is already seized with the matter.

"When the CBI is probing, there is no need for any inquiry by the railways. Whoever is found guilty in CBI probe, the government will take strict action," he said to a query if the tie-up would be inquired into.

Asked if those at the helm of affairs of the department then would be under the scanner, Sinha said: "I an not taking any names.

"The CBI is inquiring. Whoever is found guilty in the probe, whosoever he may be or she may be, the law will take its own course."

The Saradha scam came to light in April 2013 after the group downed shutters without repaying lakhs of investors, who had parked their hard earned money in the group's companies, lured by the promise of astronomically high returns.

The CBI is probing the matter as per a direction of the Supreme Court.

(Posted on 02-09-2014)

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