Speaking one’s mind freely can be dangerous now-adays, said consumer affairs minister Sadhan Pande, who, like Sobhandeb Chatterjee, has been part of the Trinamool Congress since the party’s inception.
Pande’s remark was made at a chamber of commerce and may raise the discomfiture index in the party, coming, as it does, a day after the party’s chief whip in the West Bengal assembly, Shobhandeb, commented about the quality of the party’s leadership.
“This is a dangerous time. Opening your mouth or attempting free expression of thought can be tantamount to inviting danger,” Pande said, at MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while answering media queries on the possible steps to be taken by his department in protecting the interest of investors from chit funds.
Faced with mounting dissent and public comment by leaders, Trinamool Congress issued a gag order on workers and leaders on December 4, directing all to seek approval from Partha Chatterjee before making a public comment.
Like Chattopadhyay, Pande has been with Trinamool since it’s birth and there has never before been a single instance of his deserting the party in difficult times.
Pande’s addition makes him the third Trinamool veteran to open his mouth against the party leadership, the first being the party MLA from Singur, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, who alleged that a large section of Trinamool leaders and workers had been resorting to extortion in different pockets of West Bengal.
Virtually admitting that the state government has been unable to take steps against chit funds because of the presence of ‘influential people’ on the boards of such companies, Pande said, “When you know the truth, why do you want it from my mouth?”
Speaking on the occasion, Pande also said that he was aware of chit funds committing excesses and several people are being cheated because of their ignorance and greed.
“This chit fund menace cannot be stopped without active cooperation from the state finance department and the police. If I get the necessary cooperation from these two quarters, my department will surely take action,” he said.
Asked whether the state government is serious about applying the clause of Prize Chit and Money Circulation(Banning) Scheme Act to control the chit fund menace, Pande said, “You better ask this question to the state finance minister, Amit Mitra.”
Immediately after, followed his satirical comment on the threat to freedom of expression. He added that he has plans to ensure that the state consumer affairs department comes out with a public advertisement cautioning the public against the alluring claims made by these chit fund companies.
Pande said that he had asked the previous Union minister of corporate affairs Virappa Moili to take the initiative so that the Union government would act against these dubious financial entities. “I will make the same request to the new Union corporate affairs minister Sachin Pilot, as well,” he added.