Kolkata, Aug 28 :
On a day the CBI quizzed the former aide of a senior state minister in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday alleged canards were being spread against her party which is not “run on chit fund money”.
Addressing activists of Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad, the party’s student wing, Banerjee said her government would cooperate if the matter was probed properly, but warned “if you spread canards, remember we are not dead”.
She alleged the canards were being spread to “protect the real culprits”.
“Trinamool Congress does not run on chit fund money. We have people’s blessings with us. We do not need money and multi-crore advertising to win elections.
“We created a fund and a commission to return the money to the people. We have paid Rs.500 crore. Now, the matter is not in my hands. The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) is looking into it. They should see so that the people get their money back.”
In an obvious reference to her government nabbing scam mastermind Sudipta Sen from a Kashmir hotel in April last year after the scandal came to light, she said “after chit fund scam, we arrested the culprit from Kashmir”.
She said noted film actress and movie maker Aparna Sen faced grilling from the Enforcement Directorate as she was editor of a women’s magazine published by the Saradha group.
“They have done the right thing by calling her. But what is her fault? She has worked in a magazine.”
Three days after her party’s Rajya Sabha member and former editor of a local vernacular daily “Kaloma” Ahmed Hassan Imran was quizzed by the ED, Banerjee said” “What can you say if a journalist writes a column and is engaged as a paid employee in a publication?”
Bapi Karim, a former confidential assistant to state Sports and Transport Minister Madan Mitra was grilled by the CBI at his house and the agency’s office during the day.
After a year-long probe by a special investigation team of the West Bengal Police, the Saradha scam investigation was handed over to the CBI by the Supreme Court in May. Other central agencies like the ED and the SFIO are also closing in on the Saradha money trail.
A host of Trinamool leaders including state minister Shyamapada Mukherjee, actor-MP Mithun Chakraborty and former IPS officer Rajat Majumdar have already been grilled by the CBI or the ED. Another Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh was arrested by the SIT last year.
The SaradhaAscam came to light in April 2013 after the group downed shutters without repaying lakhs of investors, who had parked their hard earned money in the group companies, lured by the promise of astronomically high returns.