Attacking West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, her predecessor and CPI-M leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Sunday termed as "lies" her statement that she knew nothing about the ponzi scheme before the Bengali New Year day.
"New she says I did not know anything before Polia Baishakh (April 15-Bengali New Year's Day). For some people, lying is a habit. She knew everything. Her government has admitted that in an affidavit before the court," Bhattacharjee said without taking her name at a public meeting in Shyamnagar of neighbouring North 24 Parganas district.
"She put her party MP at the head of the newspaper and television channel business of the Group (ponzi scheme-aided Saradha, which has gone bust). Another MP was the brand ambassador. So many of their (ruling Trinamool Congress) people were on monthly payroll (of the Saradha Group)," he said.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist leader said the Trinamool government allowed the media business of the Group as also those run by other ponzi scheme-aided companies to flourish on the condition that they back the ruling party to the hilt and strongly campaign against the opposition Left Front.
"They were told that if they do so they would get government advertisements generously. Crores of government money in the form of advertisements was pumped into the chit fund run media. Now that skeletons are tumbling out, the chief minister says 'You are calling me thief? Then what are you?'"
Taking strong exception to Banerjee's allegation by displaying his picture at a public rally that he also hobnobbed with ponzi scheme promoters, the former chief minister said: "Whose picture have you showed with me? What do you want to prove? It was very easy to click my pictures. I was chief minister for ten years."
Raising his voice, Bhattacharjee virtually threw a challenge to the chief minister.
"Have I made money (from ponzi schemes)? Have I ensured my family got money from chit funds? Have I put my partymen at top positions of the chit fund run companies?
"Has my party made money from them? On the other hand, your party is one of criminals. It is steeped in corruption," he said.
Bhattacharjee said the scale of the scam was unprecedented in the state. "The business done by the company runs into Rs.50,000 crores."
Joining the chorus for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the scandal, he said there was no alternative to a probe by the national agency due to the magnitude of the scam involving multiple states and huge amounts of money.
Bhattacharjee also castigated the chief minister for her use of "indecent language".
"Is it the language of a chief minister? I get sick when I listen to her speech on television."