In a bid to make the chit fund scam a major issue in the urban local body (ULB) polls scheduled later this year and the 2014 elections, the State Congress constituted a state-level cell to provide legal assistance to persons defrauded by the finance companies.
The committee, to be headed by advocate and party leader Sibanand Ray, was announced here on Sunday by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Jaydev Jena. The other members of the committee include N B Chaini (advocate), retired bureaucrat Narendra Kumar Mishra, Niroj Mohapatra and Debraj Mohanty (both advocates). Former president of the Bhubaneswar district Congress committee Manoranjan Dash will be the convenor.
The OPCC said the State-level committee will coordinate with district and block level committees of the party on the issue. The committee will also receive fresh complaints from investors and provide free legal assistance. Besides the block president of the party, the block committee will have a lawyer as member. The district committee will have two lawyers and the district Congress Committee (DCC) president as members. The OPCC has also decided to launch an agitational programme demanding that the State Government should announce how money deposited by people with different chit fund companies will be returned.
Alleging that the Crime Branch inquiry into the chit fund scam in the State is a coverup, the OPCC president demanded that the Chief Minister should agree to an independent probe. Jena has also demanded that a white paper should be issued by the State Government on the number of such companies operating in the State, the number of investors and the money involved.
Dismissing the Congress move as politically motivated, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das said there is nothing to be opposed if they sincerely want to help the people.
The BJD also wants to come forward to help the investors who have been defrauded, he said. Referring to the demand for issuing a white paper, Das said how can this be done when the Crime Branch inquiry is yet to be completed.