Arrest BJP’s Suvendu, Himanta in Saradha chit fund scam: TMC

Suvendu Adhikari
Several BJP leaders, including leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, were detained by police when they were marching to state secretariat 'Nabanna' in Kolkata

Amidst allegations of central agencies being increasingly misused to harass opposition leaders by the Centre, the TMC has turned the heat on the BJP, hitting the streets seeking the arrest of saffron leaders in a chit fund scam.

The party held demonstrations in front of the CBI office in Kolkata on Monday demanding arrest of two BJP leaders — leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma —  in the Saradha chit fund case.

Similar demonstrations were organised in other places of the state seeking Adhikari’s arrest in the chit-fund case as well as the Narada bribery case.

By launching the stir demanding arrest of the saffron leaders, the TMC is trying to mobilise public opinion against “selective targeting” of opposition leaders by the BJP-led Centre.

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With several of its party leaders facing probe by central agencies in connection with a teacher recruitment scam, coal and cow smuggling as well as Narada bribery case and Saradha chit fund case, the TMC has now become vocal against the central agencies, questioning their neutrality.

“As a minister in the BJP-led central government, I had seen how the BJP as a party controlled the central agencies and they did it very stupidly. By not initiating action against Himanta Biswa Sarma and Suvendu Adhikari, it has been made obvious that once you are in the BJP, no one will touch you,” Babul Supriyo, who had joined the TMC last year, said addressing the demonstrators outside the CBI office in Kolkata.

Also read: Saradha scam: ED attaches ₹3 crore assets of TMC leaders, others

Incidentally, the day the TMC hit the street against the alleged misuse of central agencies, the Enforcement Directorate summoned Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut to question him in a money laundering probe.

TMC leaders termed the ED action as another instance of “selective targeting” of opposition leaders.

“Today it has been once again proved how the BJP is remote controlling the central agencies. Just think about it… The timing of the summon issued to Sanjay Raut. It came at a time when there is a political crisis going on in Maharashtra. It clearly shows at whose behest the ED is functioning. It is also now clear that the BJP is behind the political turmoil in Maharashtra,” Supriyo said.

Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a public programme in Burdwan also flayed the ED’s action against Raut saying the central government is “tormenting” those who are speaking the truth.

“Today a Shiv Sena leader in Maharashtra has been summoned by the ED; Is this the way to run a democracy? The BJP government at the Centre is using the CBI and ED against those who are speaking the truth,” she alleged.

The TMC supremo in her letter to 22 leaders of the non-BJP parties earlier this month had alleged, “opposition leaders are being deliberately targeted by different central agencies” and cited it as one of threats to the country’s democracy that needed to be countered through “confluence of opposition voices.”

To keep up the heat, an eight-member TMC delegation led by Education Minister Bratya Basu will call on Governor Jagdeep Dhankar at Raj Bhawan on Tuesday to raise the issue of central agencies inaction against the BJP leaders.

Saradha scam

Adhikari’s alleged involvement in the Saradha scam came to the fore once again after the chit fund company’s incarcerated owner Sudipta Sen last week claimed the BJP leader, who was at that time an influential minister in the TMC government, used to “blackmail” him and took money from him.

In 2013,  Sen in a letter addressed to the CBI had alleged that he had paid ₹3 crore to Sarma.

“Another high-level person has dramatically cheated me. He is Mr Himanta Biswa Sarma. For the last six months, apart from one and half years, he has taken from us not less than  ₹3 crore all by cash and some vouchers have been signed by his office executives by some other means. This amount is also to be returned to the company for paying up the Bengal area creditors because this amount has always been given from the Calcutta office,” Sen had purportedly written in the letter.

TMC claims Sarma and Adhikari joined the BJP to get immunity against the probe by central agencies.

Also read: Suvendu’s clout in Bengal mirrors BJP’s N-E model of grafted growth

Sen’s Saradha Group defrauded lakhs of people after mopping up close to Rs 1200 crore through various Ponzi schemes the company operated in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Odisha, Jharkhand and other states ostensibly with the help of influential ministers and officials of those states.

Meanwhile, raising hopes of lakhs of defrauded depositors, a division bench of the Calcutta high court on Monday directed the ED, CBI and the state government’s investigating agencies to deposit all the money and assets of the  Saradha Group in their possession to Justice (retired) Sailendra Prasad Talukdar committee.

The committee will then auction the properties through SEBI and refund the money to the depositors from the sale proceeds, said advocate Arindam Das, who represents the depositors in the case.

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