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Opposition tries luck with Saradha afresh
- Left lines up protest in city today and new plea reaches court as govt releases more funds

Calcutta, Nov. 28: Opposition parties today signalled that they would mount a fresh drive to keep the Saradha controversy alive and the government released the third tranche to help the default victims.

The Opposition is seeking a lifeline in arrested Trinamul MP Kunal Ghosh’s outbursts and the government is banking on the relief package that once helped it defuse the situation.

The Left and the Congress hit the streets to demand a CBI probe into the Saradha default. The Left has lined up a four-hour programme at Rani Rashmoni Avenue tomorrow from 12.30pm.

The controversy reached the high court afresh, too, with an advocate filing a petition seeking an investigation by the CBI.

The Opposition could not make much headway when the scandal broke, probably because a Rs 500-crore relief scheme announced by the chief minister blunted the campaign. The government today announced a tranche of Rs 45 crore for the duped depositors. The first instalment of Rs 50 crore and the second of Rs 30 crore had been released earlier.

Trinamul’s stellar performance in successive elections since then had overshadowed the controversy and several CPM leaders had confined their protests to Facebook of late.

However, the arrest of Kunal and his innuendoes against the Trinamul leadership appear to have compelled the Opposition to renew the protests on the ground.

The Opposition’s fresh case so far appears to be largely based on the general allegations levelled by Kunal, not specific information ferreted out on its own.

The Congress, the Trinamul’s estranged ally, organised a law-violation programme on Rani Rashmoni Avenue while CPM leaders protested in Salt Lake. Former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addressed a rally in Baranagar.

“We will go to the extreme in support of our demand for a CBI probe into the Saradha default,” state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said at the law-violation programme this afternoon.

At a CPM protest in front of the Bidhannagar commissionerate, a 300-strong gathering led by former MP Sujan Chakraborty demanded a CBI probe into the Saradha default and immediate refund of money to the duped depositors.

A scuffle broke out between police and the protestors, following which 24 people, including Chakraborty, were arrested. They were later granted bail.

Former chief minister Bhattacharjee led the party’s protest at the other end of the city, in Baranagar. “Why are they scared of a CBI probe? They know that if a CBI probe is ordered, everything will come out in the open,” he told a rally.

A Congress delegation met governor M.K. Narayanan and requested him to urge the government to order a CBI probe.

CPM central committee member Gautam Deb said the North 24-Parganas unit of the party would organise a march to Nabanna on January 10 to demand a CBI probe.

In the petition in Calcutta High Court, advocate Subrata Mukhopadhyay alleged that the government had failed to carry out most of the directives a division bench had issued for handling of the default probe.

“The bench had directed the state to sell the seized properties of the Saradha Group and refund the money to the investors from the proceeds. In reality, the administration is paying from the government exchequer,” said Mukhopadhyay, who also touched upon Kunal’s allegations.