In a bid to drive home the point that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) was not a party to anti-people activities such as chit funds, ahead of the crucial panchayat polls in the state, its chief Mamata Banerjee said such sham businesses prospered under the comrade friends and blamed the UPA Government at the Centre for ignoring the issue of ponzi schemes.
After the Saradha Group’s chit fund went bust and thousands of small, mostly rural, investors were left in the lurch, political parties in the state, especially the ruling class, have been trying their best to distance themselves from the scandal.
The parties know only too well the political fall-out that such a scandal could generate ahead of the polls.
Other than vehement denials by the TMC leaders of any liaison with chit fund owners, Mamata is likely to hold rallies and party meetings in different districts and Kolkata, to show the party in the right light.
“The chit funds are a legacy of Bengal from the 70s and 80s. For all these years, the CPM and Congress have done nothing about it... Now, they cannot pretend to be angels... Mamata, as is her style, will lead from the front to communicate this message across the state and stand by those who have been swindled,” said Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien.
In another measure, the state government has withdrawn the Bill passed by the Left government to protect small investors and recently passed a new Bill -- West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishment Bill, 2013 -- to regulate chit funds companies.
The party had earlier published an article titled ‘Ten things you wanted to know about Chit Funds but didn’t know who to ask’, on its website, soon after the Saradha scam came to light.
Besides TMC Rajya Sabha MPs Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose getting implicated in the Saradha scam, the CPM has accused Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee of running a chit fund company.
“Mamata’s nephew Abhishek, who is also the leader of Trinamool Congress Yuva, runs a company which is involved in real estate and micro-finance and has made a huge amount of money in the last two to three years. Microfinance is a civilised name of chit funds,” said CPM central committee member Gautam Deb at a rally in North 24 Parganas district.
With allegations flying around daily and Mamata’s brother Kartik stating that she was surrounded by dubious people, the TMC chief has been forced to say that she has no family.
“I have no family of my own. I used to live with my mother and two little girls, who used to look after her. My mother is no more and I don’t want anyone to associate my name with anybody related to me,” she said.