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Rivals unite on default

Calcutta, April 11: The Left and the Congress today shared a dais to express solidarity with duped depositors of the Saradha Group, a day after the BJP’s Narendra Modi blamed the Mamata Banerjee government for the default scam.

CPM leaders such as Biman Bose and Surjya Kanta Mishra and the Congress’s Abdul Mannan attended a meeting of the Chit Fund Sufferers’ Unity Forum on Rani Rashmoni Avenue this afternoon and said they would support the victims.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had observed that the “entire system” in Bengal seemed to have “crumbled” under the Saradha default conspiracy and wondered whether the probe should be shifted to the CBI.

Today’s meeting was organised by former Naxalite leader Ashim Chatterjee and Party for Democratic Socialism leader Samir Putatunda.

A CPM leader later said the coalition needed to express its solidarity with the fleeced depositors and agents of Saradha and other deposit-mobilising companies in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

“Thousands of crores of rupees were siphoned off in the Saradha case. Lakhs of depositors and agents have become penniless. The Left had always been supportive of their cause. But with the elections round the corner, we wanted today’s programme to happen so that we could iterate that the Left Front is strongly backing them,” the leader said.

Asked whether there was any hesitation on the part of the Left leadership to share the dais with the Congress, the CPM leader added: “We are treating the Saradha issue as an apolitical one. So what’s wrong with the Congress speaking on the same issue and defending the cause of the agents and depositors?”

CPM state secretary Bose told the gathering that the Left was firmly behind the affected people and demanded that the government make arrangements to return the duped depositors’ money.

“The chief minister’s paintings were bought by the Saradha Group at a price of Rs 1.68 crore and that it is enough to prove Trinamul’s links with it,” Bose alleged.

He targeted Mamata for taking choppers to campaign venues and said the Trinamul chief was claiming her party was “poor”, yet she was using such an expensive mode of transport.

Congress spokesperson Mannan spoke about the “urgent” need to defend the interests of the cheated depositors, saying the “dictatorial” Trinamul government had “little concern” for them.

Mannan had left by the time the CPM’s Bose and Mishra arrived but the Congress leader shared the dais with leaders of other Left partners.