Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee told party workers at a meeting in Kharagpur on Tuesday that the BJP-led central government was out to get her and her party colleagues and put them behind bars in connection with the multi-crore Saradha scam.
This was the first time the West Bengal CM hit out directly at the Centre, although she has in the past hinted that her party was being targeted in the 2013 scam in which about 1.8 million people lost around Rs 2,500 crore.
“They (the Centre) are putting people in jail and issuing summons,” she told party workers. “They want to put Mukul (Roy), Subhendu (Adhikari) and me in jail.”
The Central Bureau of Investigation, that is probing the scam, has already arrested senior Trinamool leaders Madan Mitra, Kunal Ghosh, Srinjoy Bose and Rajat Majumdar for their alleged involvement, sparking opposition parties’ demand that the agency should also look into Banerjee’s role in the deposit fund.
The chief minister, who has denied any involvement, said the Centre should go after those media houses that advertised such dubious deposit funds.
“The Centre has to return the money to all depositors who have become victims of different chit funds. Those who published advertisements of chit funds should also be arrested,” she said.
BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh added to the clamour when he started the slogan, “Bhaag-Madan-bhaag, bhaag-Mamata-bhaag” at rally in Kolkata last month. Singh said the CBI would summon Banerjee in 2016, when Bengal goes to polls.
However, Banerjee remained defiant. “If they indeed put us in prison, lakhs of people will be ready,” she said.