Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 11 :
While leaders of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha, including its chief spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Kalpataru Das, are now claiming vociferously that they had never ever opposed the idea of CBI probing the huge chit find scam in the state, they have failed to explain why the hugely expensive counsels that the state government had appointed to represent its ‘cause’ wanted certain Odisha-based companies to be excluded from the dubious list after it became apparent that the apex court would order a CBI inquiry in the matter.
It is important to note that during the final phases of the hearing in the matter in the Supreme Court, an overwhelming majority of the 37 companies, that the state government was willing to allow to be probed by the CBI, were not based in Odisha.
It is equally important to note that during the last phase of the hearing in the PIL filed by social activist Alok Jena on the chit find scam in Odisha, while Jena’s counsel Suresh Tripathy had submitted a list of 11 chit fund companies, including Artha Tatwa, Astha, Seashore and Saradha, to be referred to the CBI for inquiry, the counsel for the state government presented a list of 37 companies which, interestingly, excluded Saradha,Artha Tatwa and Seashore.
The state government’s counsels argued that AT, Seashore and Astha were operating within the state and the volume of their business was small compared to others while Saradha had marginal business in the state. They had also said that investigation of these companies need not be handed over to the CBI because the state Crime Branch was already conducting a thorough probe on them.
It is another matter that the Court upheld the arguments put forth by SC Tripathy, counsel for the petitioner and ordered the inclusion of these three companies in the probe list.
If our sources are right, the only possible reason why the BJD government was desperately trying to keep these three companies out of the purview of the CBI probe is that, despite the so-called ‘small’ volume of their business, they enjoyed the patronage of ruling party ministers, MLAs, influential bureaucrats and police officials who were allegedly bribed heavily to look the other way while they carried on with their illegal operations.
The sources tell us that the list of beneficiaries of this murky trade also includes media persons, who have done their best over the last couple of years – and are still trying- to shift the focus away from these rogue companies by targeting other companies.
There are also reports that the pressing reason why the state agencies were in a big hurry to dump the owners of Seashore, Artha Tatwa and Astha in jail was out of the fear that, pushed to a corner, they could spill the beans about who all were their patrons and who all were on their undisclosed pay rolls.
No wonder, the police have allegedly done everything possible on their part to keep the jailed bosses of chit fund companies away from any possible interaction with the media. One has seen the visuals of cops muzzling the head of Sea Shore group Prashant Das at the city airport after he was arrested. Artha Tatwa chief Pradip Sethy was whisked away after he was about to expose names of his direct beneficiaries in the ruling party.
We have heard phone conversations that took place allegedly between Sethi and a powerful BJD leader and also come across evidence of the driver of a ruling party politician with clout, owning a car that costs a fortune.
However, with CBI now all set to probe the huge scam, one can look forward to shocking revelations about how these chit fund companies managed to flourish right under the nose of the people who were supposed to stop them in their tracks, apparently because they were heavily bribed or were recipients of illegal financial returns that their illegal operations minted.