On Sunday night, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee began her high profile drama with an indefinite dharna in Kolkata alleging that a coup against her government is underway. Her police went to the extent of detaining eight CBI officials who had gone to question the Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar with matters regarding the chit fund scams. It rattled her so much that a furious Mamata Banerjee started making absurd claims against the BJP and began an overnight dharna to “save the constitution”. She said, “This is a Satyagraha and I’ll continue till the country is saved.” She also dared the BJP to impose President’s Rule in West Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee also defended the officer in question- Rajiv Kumar. She tweeted, “The Kolkata Police Commissioner is among the best in the world. His integrity, bravery and honesty are unquestioned. He is working 24×7, and was on leave for only one day recently. When you spread lies, the lies will always remain lies.”
The Kolkata Police Commissioner is among the best in the world. His integrity, bravery and honesty are unquestioned. He is working 24×7, and was on leave for only one day recently. When you spread lies, the lies
will always remain lies 2/2
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) February 3, 2019
Everyone wondered why Mamata Banerjee is defending the Kolkata Police Commissioner- Rajeev Kumar- who headed a SIT investigating the Saradha and Rose Valley Ponzi scams of 2013 this vehemently .
Interim CBI chief M Nageshwar Rao told ANI that there is evidence against Rajeev Kumar. Rao said, “He has been instrumental in causing destruction of this evidence and obstructing justice.” He further added that the CBI is probing these chit fund cases as per the directions of the apex court. Rao alleged that the Kolkata Police has taken charge of all the evidence, seized all the documents. He said, “They have not been cooperating with us in handing over all the documents and a lot of evidence has been destroyed or caused to disappear.”
The Saradha and Rose Valley Ponzi scams are big scams involving many big names. Many senior politicians from the ruling party received support from Saradha and Rose Valley group. The CBI arrested TMC MP Tapas Pal on 30th Dec 2016 and TMC MP Sudip Bandhopadhyay on 3rd January 2017 in connection with the alleged Rose Valley chit fund scam. Tapas Pal was one of the directors of the Rose valley group; Bandyopadhyay is accused of being a promoter of the ponzi firm.When the TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay was arrested, members of the TMC attacked the BJP headquarters in Kolkata which caused injury to several BJP workers. According to reports, the Rose Valley scam is of around 17,000 crore; the small depositors association the scam stood at 40,000 crore.
In December 2014, the CBI arrested the West Bengal Transport Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Madan Mitra in connection with the multi-crore-rupee Saradha chit fund scam. The CBI official Kanchan Prasad told IANS, “Mitra was arrested on prima facie evidence of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation as well as deriving undue financial benefits from the Saradha group.” Mitra also headed the Saradha employees union.
Satabdi Roy, the actress turned politician and an MP from TMC, was Saradha’s brand ambassador. At first she denied any association with the Saradha group but later on accepted that she was associated with the real estate sector, not with the financial section of the group.
Agents of Saradha group openly boasted about their ties with the ruling government. There was a perception that group’s media companies were close to the TMC. Daughter in law of an investor told The Telegraph, “Many people in the area (Baruipur) were investing in Saradha because of its proximity to the Trinamul Congress. So, we invested as well.”
According to a Firstpost report, Krishnapada Mandal, a rickshaw-puller turned Saradha agent said, “We were shown the chief minister’s pictures with the owner.” He also said, “We were told that Trinamool MPs and MLAs were associated with the group and therefore, nothing could happen to our company.”
Kunal Ghosh, a suspended TMC MP, was earlier group CEO of Saradha’s media unit. He was close to Mamata Banerjee but the relationship between the two deteriorated in the wake of Saradha chit fund scam. According to an India Today report, he blamed the Trinamool Congress top bosses for allowing the chit Fund Company to flourish in the state and then collapse. He alleged that the TMC high command was well aware of the operations of the company and how it was collecting money fraudulently by promising people huge returns on deposits. The India Today report further states that Ghosh named number of TMC big names for having a close relation with the Saradha Group chairman, Sudipta Sen, and for using their VIP status and influence to convince people that the deposit company was reliable. The TMC Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose and Vice-president Rajat Majumdar were also jailed.
In 2014 there were news reports claiming that promoter of the Saradha chit fund, Sudipto Sen, purchased one of Mamata Banerjee’s paintings for Rs. 1.8 crore. The Times of India had quoted its CBI sources saying, “Though Sen had then denied having bought any of Mamata’s paintings, the I-T returns filed by the Trinamool Congress show that his group indeed acquired one.”
For more details: CBI seizes two dozen paintings by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
According to a rediff.com report, Saradha’s annual collections went up from Rs 15 million at inception to Rs 10.08 billion in 2011-12 and Rs 8.5 billion in 2012-13, when Banerjee was chief minister of West Bengal. The report of rediff.com further states that in 2011-12, the Saradha group spent millions of rupees sponsoring cycles, motorcycles, ambulances etc that the then West Bengal CM distributed among the people in Jangalmahal and other backward areas of the state.
No one can deny that the menace of Ponzi schemes group and syndicate raj flourished under the Mamata government. It also explains why she is so rattled with the CBI investigation in the case.