Hours before Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy was expected to walk into the CBI building in Kolkata on Friday to face questions over the multi-crore Saradha scam, the ruling party in West Bengal seemed caught between a rock and a hard place, analysts said.
If Roy is arrested, the Trinamool will be pinned to the wall. If he is not, he may be used by the Opposition to engineer a split in the 18-year-old party.
Trinamool leaders, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee, are jittery that Roy, who met arrested Saradha Group chief Sudipta Sen at least twice, could spill the beans on the party's association with the controversial businessman.
Analysts said Roy’s brief comment in Delhi was almost like a teaser – a cryptic indicator of the information he may share with investigators.
“Mukul Roy is extremely important in the Trinamool structure since he knows the party organisation and resources, including the election-winning machinery, like the back of his hand,” said a senior party leader on condition of anonymity. “He knows too many secrets.”
The Trinamool has been hit hard by the probe into the Saradha scam that was caused in 2013 by the collapse of the investment operation of the Saradha Group, a consortium of over 200 private companies that ran many unlicensed financial schemes in eastern India.
According to official estimates, thousands of small investors lost close to Rs 2,500 crore, drawing attention to India’s vast informal financial sector with companies that raise money from the public but don’t fall under the purview of regulators.
The Trinamool has called a meeting at the chief minister’s Kalighat residence on Saturday to decide strategy and reshuffle its top rank if Roy is arrested.
“Almost everyone from (party leaders) Srinjoy to Madan Mitra were picked up. If Roy is not, it may just point to a new plot that may result in sleepless nights for leaders,” said a party MP.
Two Trinamool MPs and a party vice-president are already behind bars while others are being grilled by central agencies. Opposition parties say it is a matter of time before the chief minister is called for questioning.