State education minister and top Trinamool leader Partha Chatterjee on Sunday told the media that the people found guilty in chit fund scams should be punished. He also said that it was he who had raised the issue of illegal operations of various chit funds as many as 12 years ago.
“Of late, there have been a lot of discussions about chit funds. I have been talking about it since 2003 but no one paid any heed at that time. Those who are guilty should be punished but before that their crime has to be proved,” Chatterjee said on Sunday while speaking at the annual general meeting of West Bengal Government College Teachers’ Association.
Significantly, party general secretary Mukul Roy who has developed a cold relationship with his party and leader, Mamata Banerjee, over the past few days, was the first top Trinamool leader to say that people guilty in the scam should be punished. Sabyasachi Dutta, Party MLA loyal to him, had echoed Mukul’s views.
Roy and Dutta’s remarks had surprised the party leadership because everyone else in the leadership, including Mamata, had been attacking the BJP-led Union government for using the CBI in a politically vindictive manner to taint the image of Trinamool by linking its leaders with the Saradha scam.
In January Chatterjee had said the party would hit the streets if its general secretary Mukul Roy were arrested in the chit fund case. But since Roy came out smiling after CBI interrogation, the equations have changed.
Observers see Chatterjee’s change of view as a change of stance of the whole party, which was set to treat the Saradha scam investigation as a political move guided by the Centre until Roy and his followers started singing in a different tune. Besides, party MP Sugato Bose and Debabrata Bandopadhyay, too, had raised this issue.
“Now that Roy and his followers are welcoming the probe and advocating punishment for the guilty, it would possibly had damaged the image of the party further had it not demanding punishment for the culprits of the biggest scam in Bengal history,” a Trinamool leader said after learning about Chatterjee’s remarks.