NEW DELHI: West Bengal BJP leaders are questioning the “inaction” of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the Saradha chit fund scam that duped thousands of innocent people of their lakhs of hard-earned money. The Saradha scam allegedly involved a number of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders from West Bengal.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, earlier last week, West Bengal BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, questioned the CBI’s “reluctance” to act against the perpetrators of the Saradha chit fund scam. Adhikari also mentioned CBI’s “incomprehensible scepticism” and “hesitation” to act against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who according to Adhikari, was the biggest beneficiary of the Saradha scam.
“The CBI was handed over the responsibility of the investigation, because it was a scam which involved thousands of crores collected from the public allegedly because of the patronage of people occupying high positions in the system. The CBI was expected to nail the person occupying the highest position in the system, and thereby misused her position to become the ‘Biggest Beneficiary’ of the Saradha Chit Fund Scam. The person is none other than Mamata Banerjee, unfortunately the Chief Minister of West Bengal,” Adhikari wrote in his letter to Prime Minister Modi.
Adhikari also raised questions about the slow-paced investigation into the scam and asked why the CBI was shielding Mamata Banerjee. He said, “Is this why the CBI is hesitant? Or has the height of her chair made them (CBI) reluctant to act against her (Mamata Banerjee)? But wasn’t it the primary reason for handing over the investigation to the CBI? So that the position of the high and mighty doesn’t deter them from acting against them and bringing them to justice.”
Not only Adhikari, several BJP leaders had also questioned Home Minister Amit Shah in a closed-door meeting held late last year in Kolkata about the CBI’s slow-paced movement in the Saradha scam. Some BJP leaders had in closed door conversations also started to voice that the CBI would not act against the top leaders of the TMC since there was allegedly a “tacit understanding” between the Central and the State governments.
One BJP functionary from West Bengal speaking to The Sunday Guardian said that Adhikari’s letter was much needed and that the CBI’s “inaction” for years against the perpetrators of such a massive loot of public money was raising doubts not only amongst the workers of the BJP but also amongst the sympathizers of the BJP in the state.
“It has been years since the CBI started to investigate the Saradha chit fund scam, but almost a decade later there is nothing much that has moved in this sphere. We from the state had requested the Home Minister to ensure that justice is delivered to the people of West Bengal and the fraudsters that involved these top TMC leaders are booked and punished. But nothing happened” the BJP functionary from Bengal claimed.
Another BJP leader also questioned the intention of the CBI and the central leaders of the BJP to prosecute the real “kingpins” of the Saradha scam. “All of us know and saw during those days the involvement of TMC leaders with Saradha chit fund owners, but till day the CBI could not do anything. There seems to be a setting between the CBI and the state dispensation. This is also a buzz amongst the general public in Bengal,” the BJP leader said.
Nine years have passed since the CBI first started to investigate the matter, but the agency has still not been able to complete the investigation into this massive scam that looted over Rs 2,000 crore of public money from 20 lakh small investors in Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Assam.
The then Chief Justice of India, T.S. Thakur, while handing over the case to CBI on 9 May 2014, had stated that the step was necessitated as the “the (WB) state police has not been able to make any headway in the conspiracy angle, money trail and the seizure of the properties related to the scam”. However, as the facts clearly prove, the Supreme Court’s intent behind taking the case from the West Bengal state police and handing it over to the CBI, which was to identify and punish the political entities, has failed to materialize. When the case was handed over to the CBI, the agency was then headed by Ranjit Sinha; since then, nine directors have held the charge of the premier investigating agency.
After Justice Thakur, who ordered the CBI investigation in May 2014, the Supreme Court of India has seen seven more Chief Justices, yet no justice has been delivered to the lakhs of poor people who lost their money in this scam, that involved several politicians.
The agency filed its first charge-sheet in the case in October 2014, after which it filed a series of charge-sheets in November 2014, April 2015, August 2015, December 2015. Another charge-sheet filed in January 2019 named Nalini Chidambaram, wife of former Home and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.
The final charge-sheet, which focused on the roles played by politicians, was supposed to be filed by April 2016, but never saw the light of day because of “extraneous reasons”, an agency official had earlier told The Sunday Guardian. The politicians who are allegedly involved in this scam include several TMC MPs, MLAs and even state Cabinet ministers. For example, the CBI has questioned TMC MLA and former number two of the party Mukul Roy, TMC MP Shatabdi Roy, TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Madan Mitra, Kunal Ghosh, among others.