Kolkata, Sep 3 :
Amid a raging controversy over a reported tie-up between the IRCTC – a public sector enterprise under the railway ministry – and the Saradha Group in 2010, retired Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Ganguly Wednesday made a veiled attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, ridiculing the Trinamool Congress’ claim that she was a “symbol of honesty”.
Referring to the allegations that the Saradha Tours and Travels was favoured in getting a contract from the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for a tourism project, Ganguly said: “It happened during the stint of a minister who thinks of herself as a symbol of honesty.”
“Does this not amount to perpetrating a fraud on the people,” Ganguly asked, without naming Banerjee.
He said when the Assam and Odisha governments had no problems with a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Saradha chit FUND muddle, “the West Bengal government was dead against it”.
“Now we can see why West Bengal was against it,” he said at a programme here.
Ganguly, a former West Bengal Human Rights Commission chairman, also rubbished the Trinamool’s charge that the CBI – which is probing the chit FUND muddle -was functioning as a “political organisation” at the behest of the central governement.
“Now they are saying it’s a political conspiracy. What political conspiracy? I will cheat the people, and then if that is inquired into, then does that become a political conspiracy?”
According to reports, the IRCTC had inked a deal with the Saradha Group company for providing logistic support to the “Bharat Tirth” project announced in the 2010-11 railway budget by then minister Mamata Banerjee.
In a bid to promote tourism, the scheme envisaged launching 16 special ‘Bharat Tirth’ trains connecting popular tourist sites and pilgrimage centres in different parts of the country.
The reports said Saradha Tours and Travels was made the official partner for the 14 nights/15 days south India tour package comprising train fare, accommodation, food, transfers and sightseeing.
The Saradha scam 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’s companies, lured by the promise of astronomically high returns.
The CBI is probing the matter as per a direction of the Supreme Court.