Bhattacharjee at the press club in Calcutta. Picture by Amit Datta
April 25: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said those who had “a lot to hide” were protesting the Enforcement Directorate’s probe into the Saradha scam and dared the Mamata Banerjee government to seek a CBI investigation.
The CPM politburo member scoffed at the Trinamul Congress’s allegation that “chit funds” had bloomed when the Left was in power.
Addressing journalists at the press club in Calcutta, the CPM politburo member said: “Her (Mamata’s) party is blaming us for the rise of chit funds in our state. But the logic that we are the culprits because chit funds started when we were in power is flawed.
“We have nothing to hide. The reality is that those who have a lot to hide are protesting against the Enforcement Directorate’s investigation into the Saradha (scam). If they (Trinamul government) have the courage, let a CBI probe be done.”
The Saradha issue has gained a new lease of life in the Lok Sabha poll season and Opposition leaders have been highlighting the scam during campaigning.
The CPM had made the Saradha scam a poll plank before the panchayat elections last year but the state government had prevented a fallout by announcing a compensation package for duped depositors and by setting up a commission to probe the default.
After its poor performance in the rural polls, the CPM had alleged that Trinamul had resorted to strong-arm tactics.
But as the Lok Sabha elections are being held under the supervision of the Election Commission, the CPM leadership is hopeful of “fair polls” and believes that the Saradha scam could dent Trinamul’s vote bank, sources in the Left party said.
Bhattacharjee today admitted that criticising the Trinamul government in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections and speaking less about the achievements of the Left dispensation was a “weakness” of the CPM.
“I must also admit that not talking enough about our government’s achievements is a weakness of our party. I thank you for pointing this out,” the former chief minister said, asked why the CPM was focusing on the Saradha issue and what it perceived as faulty policies of the current government.
Bhattacharjee, however, did not miss the chance to criticise Mamata during the interaction.
Told that the Left had started the practice of attacking the Election Commission, he said: “At times, we had differences of opinion with the EC and we had criticised it, but we never attacked it the way it has become a target these days…. Look at the chief minister. She is attacking the EC every day.”
The CPM leader also drew attention to Mamata’s one-time association with the BJP. Told that many in the minority community had drifted towards Trinamul from the Left, he said: “She is opposing the BJP now. But she was with the BJP earlier. In this election, has she said it was wrong on her part to side with the BJP earlier? The chief minister has never said that.”
Mamata today repeated her allegation that the Left government had allowed the mushrooming of illegal deposit-mobilising companies.
“Buddhababu, can you remember under whose tenure chit funds were set up in Bengal? Now you are clamouring against them. Chorer mayer boro gala (the thief’s mother shouts the loudest),” the chief minister said at a rally in Tarakeswar, hours after Bhattacharjee’s interaction with journalists in Calcutta.
Trinamul MP Mukul Roy said at a rally in Chinsurah that the party was “ready to face any sort of probe” into the Saradha default.