Saradha and Rose Valley scams and CBI probe

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 Sleuths of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday included a larger chit fund scam case to the Saradha scam within the ambit of their on-going interrogation of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in Shillong. Kumar, who West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee considers the “world’s best police officer”, was grilled for the third  successive day, individually and along with former Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh, an accused in the Saradha case. Ghosh was arrested in November 2013 and served three years in prison before receiving bail. Both Rajeev Kumar and Ghosh on Monday appeared before the CBI here for questioning in connection with investigations in chit fund cases. This is the third day of grilling for Kumar and the second for Ghosh.  There is a possibility of the interrogation of both, individually or together, three more days. Kumar led the special investigation team (SIT) formed by West Bengal Chief Minister to probe the Saradha scam before the case was handed over to the CBI by the apex court. Ghosh earlier implicated BJP leader Mukul Roy, who was once the right hand man of Banerjee, and 12 others in the Saradha scam. It is unfortunate, that when a scam of the magnitude of the Saradha chit fund demanded a thorough and impartial probe, the process is now being dogged by political fist fight mainly between the BJP and the TMC while most of those accused are largely on bail.

The latest stand-off between the Narendra Modi-led Central government and the West Bengal government has again brought the two multi-crore ponzi scams – Saradha and Rose Valley – into the mainstream of the political discourse. Several high profile politicians in West Bengal and Assam and top officials were reportedly linked with the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund schemes. There is no denying that several scammers (linked to both Saradha and Rose Valley) have escaped the dragnet of CBI, ED etc by joining the BJP. Critics also point to CBI’s abated Saradha probe against two top leaders in Bengal and Assam after they joined the saffron brigade.

There is a political angle in the whole episode. While the timing of the CBI’s dramatic move to question Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with chit fund scams in Bengal is highly suspect, the Trinamool Congress supremo’s response has been crafted to serve as a political showdown with the BJP leadership ahead of the general elections. While it is deplorable that the CBI is being used largely as a tool to settle scores with political opponents, the solution does not lie in the State governments refusing consent for the federal probe into offences of serious nature because such a tendency undermines the federal spirit. Curiously, the probe, which was going on at a snail’s pace, has suddenly gathered momentum ahead of the general elections. The BJP government at the Centre must know that both the manner and timing of the CBI action in West Bengal reek of a politics of vendetta against a political opponent.

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