Kolkata, Sep 12 :
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday asserted her Trinamool Congress “has not taken” a penny from the tainted Saradha Group and accused the opposition parties of protecting the “real culprits”.
Under fire from the opposition after the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the multi-crore rupee Saradha chit fund scam, arrested a Trinamool leader Rajat Majumdar and interrogated a number of her party leaders and MPs, Banerjee said the issue was raised by her opponents only before elections.
“When did the Saradha scam happen? When Left was in power. So many other chit fund scams happened during the Left Front rule (1977-2011) – like Sanchayini and Sanchaita. The Congress, BJP and the Left are trying to protect the real culprits. Trinamool has not taken a penny from Saradha,” she told a local television channel.
Banerjee said the opposition parties had campaigned on the issue before the panchayat polls last year and this year’s general elections, but their tactics did not work. “The people showered us with their blessings in both the elections.”
Noting that the central government had given clearance to the media channels run by the Saradha Group, she asked why the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party – who led the central regimes – did not take any action.
Banerjee said her government could not be held responsible just because “a few Durga puja committees took Saradha’s sponsorship”.
Refering to a company which she called scam tainted, Banerjee said it sponsored some national sports teams. “So can the national sports team be accused of taking illegally earned money?”
In a veiled attack on the BJP, she said: “Some people, who indulge in politics of division and communalism, are saying I cheated 17 lakh people. What audacity is that?”
“They do not know the facts. 12 lakh people, not 17, were duped by Saradha. Moreover, after coming to power, we passed an anti-chit fund law. The centre kept sitting on it. They suggested changes, we made the amendments. Why have they still not cleared it?”
Pooh-poohing a query that her party’s image has taken a hit, she charged the media of running a “smear campaign”.
“The media is engaging in cheap lies and malicious propaganda. They are showing the State in bad light.”
Iterating that the people were the “biggest judge”, Banerjee said she was answerable “only to the masses”, who will “decide Trinamool’s future”.
“I listen to the voice of the people, not what media says.”