Saradha and Rose Valley are two names that would make any Bengali throw a fit. The two chit fund scams which amounted to about a combined Rs. 17,500 crores and put thousands of people on the brink of bankruptcy. The heads of these organisations were extremely powerful and had bankrolled many bengali films and one of them was even the sponsor of the Kolkata Knight Riders but what made them untouchable and connected both the scams was a common link going by the name of The Trinamool Congress (TMC). Several Trinamool leaders were involved in the scam and after the SC and SEBI stepped in and ordered an inquiry, what followed is a shameful attempt by the Mamata government to systematically stall and end the investigation by destroying every shred of evidence which culminated into yesterday’s events, effectively plunging the Bengal administration into a state of chaos.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), acting on the behest of the Supreme Court was investigating the scam which not only duped Bengal’s rich and powerful, but also the downtrodden, many of whom lost their life’s savings. It all started in 2013 when the Saradha scam broke out and it’s Chairman Supidto Sen was subsequently arrested. He is the same person who had purchased Mamata’s paintings and has admitted that this little venture of his was supported by various TMC leaders including TMC Kunal Ghosh who was at that time the CEO of Saradha Media group. The state government led by Mamata formed an SIT which was headed by Rajeev Kumar, the now commissioner of Kolkata Police who is absconding as it stands. The SIT was formed to protect the interests of the bengali people and recover the money and bring the culprits to justice. Various TMC leaders were arrested but all of them are now out on bail. When the Supreme Court decided to step in and hand over the investigation to the CBI, it was too late. Crucial evidence indicting various TMC leaders was destroyed by Rajeev Kumar and his team who had managed to run the investigation to the ground.
The CBI found huge discrepancies in eyewitness accounts and SIT’s investigation. According to multiple witnesses including Sudipto Sen, the police had seized items like pen drive and a diary but no mention of these items was found to be on the seizure list handed to the CBI by the Bengal police. Yesterday after various attempts by the CBI to summon Rajeev Kumar and his team for deposition in relation to Saradha Chit Fund Scam , the CBI finally landed in Kolkata to question Rajeev Kumar, who at that time was absconding as he was facing an immediate arrest in all likelihood. Mamata claims that CBI arrived uninformed and was trying to harass an honest and one of the world’s finest cops. But in August last year, the CBI had again complained that the West Bengal police is trying to slow down the investigation and that Rajeev Kumar had ignored their summons three times. It’s appalling how Mamata can spread such lies without even flinching for a second.
Rajeev Kumar used to be a darling of the government during the CPI(M) rule and when TMC came to power, many thought it was the end of the line for the 1989 batch IPS officer as Mamata had in the past hurled accusations of snooping against Rajeev Kumar. Mamata was advised to shunt him out and hence made him the commissioner of Bidhannagar police. It was during his term in Salt Lake that the Saradha scam broke and the Bengal police were accused of going slow on the probe. The SIT investigation was nothing but a sham when Mamata appointed Rajeev Kumar to head the SIT, as the enabler of the crime had been tasked to investigate it. The results are for all to see.
Many of us must be wondering why did Mamata resort to such desperation by arresting the CBI officials and shielding Rajeev Kumar in the face of damning evidence against him. Its down to the fact that the perpetrator of Saradha scam has in a written application, confessed that several TMC leaders were involved in the scam including Sports and Transport Minister Madan Mitra, former West Bengal DGP Rajat Majumdar and TMC MPs KunalGhosh and Srijoy Bose. The unprecedented press conference by Mamata in front of Rajeev’s residence and the arrest of CBI officials indicate a wider game to discredit the CBI by hurling accusations at PM Modi of planning a coup in West Bengal, so as to protect TMC when the CBI finally indicts the TMC leaders and present it to the Supreme Court, which is only a matter of time. This is a classic blueprint of all the opposition parties when the ED or CBI come calling, be it Lalu Prasad Yadav, Chandrababu Naidu or Akhilesh Yadav. No wonder opposition parties ruled states like Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh have banned the CBI form entering the states.
The opposition parties had put their weight behind Alok Verma in the recent tussle within the CBI involving Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana and the former’s dismissal from the office had been dissented by the Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge. Kumar after realising that the CBI then led by the Special Director Rakesh Asthana, were close to his heels, had dialled Alok Verma for help and reportedly, Verma had questioned Asthana on his attempt at going after the West Bengal Police.
Mamata has now decided to sit on a dharna, thanks to her recent meetings with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, not just to protect her senior leaders and deflect the attention but also to protect herself and her ambitions of becoming the Prime Minister in May. Manik Majumdar, who has been Mamata’s Secretary since her early days had been summoned by the CBI on January 31 in relation to the multi crore ponzi scam. Unsurprisingly, Majumdar had expressed his inability to come to CBI’s office citing poor health which led the CBI to reach his residence and subsequently record his statement. Majumdar is an important entity as he plays a key role in handling the finances of TMC and had knowledge about the purchase of Mamata’s paintings by Sudipto Sen.
As this snowballs into a major controversy, all the crooks of opposition have shown solidarity with Mamata and her conmen. With the upcoming Lok Sabha elections just a few days away, Mamata is desperate to stall the investigation at least until the elections and hopes to crush it if the Modi government is voted out of power. To imagine what would have been the media reaction had the recent events happened in any BJP ruled state especially UP, media and the liberals would have compared Modi and Yogi to Hitler. But it is increasingly clear that the real fascism is on display in West Bengal and journalists like Barkha Dutt have said that this is smart politics from Mamata and she will invoke Bengali pride.
These events give a chilling indication of what a Mahagathbandhan government would look like.