Bhattacharjee at the Ganashakti programme. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Calcutta, Jan. 4: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today lashed out at the state government’s “lack of concern” on mushrooming chit funds across the state, saying they were out to fleece small depositors.
Addressing a gathering at the Calcutta University centenary hall on party organ Ganashakti’s 47th foundation day, the CPM leader said: “Chit funds are mushrooming across Bengal. People are being lured by these funds with promises of high interest rates.
“Gullible people are depositing money with chit funds and chances are that thousands of them will not get their money back. What is worrying is the state government’s utter lack of concern.”
“It’s clear that these chit funds are being allowed to operate so that they can fleece small depositors,” Bhattacharjee added.
The former chief minister expressed surprise at small savings collections coming down drastically in Bengal. He wondered whether the allurement to keep money with chit funds was a reason behind people’s propensity to shy away from post office deposits.
“During our tenure, small savings rose and Bengal had the largest collection among all states. Now that has gone down significantly. Is it that chit funds are luring away the money from post offices to their companies? There must be an all-out opposition to chit funds,” Bhattacharjee said.
He alleged that some chit funds were patronising newspapers and TV channels.
“I don’t know what the circulation and viewership of these newspapers and channels are… may be 200, 400 or 800. They may be talking against us but that does not matter. What concerns us is what will happen to these sections of the media and the journalists working there when people realise that the authorities are out to fleece them. The funds and the media organisations will then close down,” he said.
Referring to alleged attacks on CPM leaders and cadres by Trinamul since it came to power, the CPM politburo member said even journalists and editors were not being spared.
“Not only are Opposition parties being attacked, efforts are being made to arrest journalists… to put editors behind bars,” Bhattacharjee said.
“When we were in power, we never let such things happen. Newspapers wrote against us. But we never thought of attacking or trying to arrest editors and newspersons. At times, I found that those writing against us used to get the bulk of government advertisements. However, Ganashakti doesn’t enjoy such a privilege now,” he said.
He said the Trinamul government was trying to silence the judiciary and the human rights commission.