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Rose Valley thorns may leave a deeper cut on Trinamool Congress than Saradha

The arrests in Rose Valley scam have come at a time when Mamata Banerjee is aggressively trying to extend her footprint in Delhi and emerge as a leader of a united opposition.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2017 11:44 IST
Rose Valley scam,Trinamool Congress,Mamata Banerjee
The arrests in Rose Valley scam have come at a time when Mamata Banerjee is aggressively trying to extend her footprint in Delhi and emerge as a leader of a united opposition. Here, a BJP office in Kolkata was reportedly attacked by the TMC workers on Tuesday, January 3.(Ashok Nath Dey/ Hindustan Times)

The thorns of the Rose Valley scam are beginning to hurt Bengal’s ruling party – the Trinamool Congress. Far bigger than the Saradha scam of 2013, the Rose Valley ponzi scam may leave a deeper impact on Trinamool Congress.

The arrest of the two MPs, especially that of Sudip Bandyopadhya, the party’s key face in Delhi, comes at a time when Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is aggressively trying to extend her footprints in the national capital and emerge as the face of an united opposition in the country.

Mamata made no secret of her shock at Bandyopadhyay’s arrest.

“I could not imagine that Sudipda could be arrested. He is a senior leader of Trinamool Congress. Modi Babu is using CBI, ED to terrorise those who dare to criticise him. Chit funds mushroomed under CPI(M),” she remarked in Midnapore soon after the arrest.

Read | Rose Valley scam: BJP leader’s house attacked, MP says his arrest due to note ban

Let’s take the numbers first. The Saradha group that sank in April 2013 raised about Rs 2,500 crore from 1.7 million depositors. But these numbers pale in front of Rose Valley group that mopped up in excess of Rs 15,000 crore.

But numbers are only the tip of the iceberg. The real point is the backdrop of the developments Saradha and Rose Valley.

In November and December 2014, when CBI arrested Rajya Sabha MPs Kunal Ghosh, Srinjoy Bose and Bengal minister Madan Mitra for their links with the Saradha scam, Mamata had no political stake at the national level.

The situation is entirely different now. Apart from Tapas Paul and Sudip Bandyopadhyay, a number of other party leaders, mostly faces from the party’s Lok Sabha team, are allegedly under the scanner.

Additionally, the investigation agency is reportedly preparing to issue summons to more Trinamool leaders, mostly MPs.

Read | Rose Valley ponzi scam: TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay faces CBI grilling

The twin arrests also come at a time when Mamata has already consolidated her position in Bengal. Her image is at its zenith following her moral victory in Singur that has catapulted her as a champion of farmers’ rights. She is also trying to project herself as a firm defender of Muslim rights by opposing the saffron camp on a number of issues such as eating beef. Recently, she went around the Hindi heartland trying to rally all the opposition parties against the Prime Minister on the issue of demonetisation.

“Mamata’s strategy of supporting her leaders and MPs arrested in Saradha and Rose Valley chit funds will backfire.”

“The recent arrests will have deep negative impact on the image of Mamata Banerjee as well as her party. Her strategy of supporting her leaders and MPs arrested in Saradha and Rose Valley chit funds will backfire. Instead of targeting Modi, she should have said law will take its own course,” said Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, former principal of Presidency College and a teacher of political science.

According to political experts the arrests may hurt Mamata’s political ambitions. It may dent her credibility among other regional parties at a time when the Trinamool Congress is trying to rally them against the BJP.

The Trinamool leader’s desperation is also apparent from her challenge to the Centre to arrest her.

“Mamata Banerjee is unnerved and rattled. She should answer why only leaders of her party are found to be connected in all chit fund scams in Bengal, be it Saradha or Rose Valley. Mamata Banerjee should answer why the state police failed to probe themselves and instead tried to scuttle the investigation,” said Sidharth Nath Singh, BJP national secretary.

Read | Arrested Sudip Bandopadhyay is Mamata’s confidant, Trinamool face in Delhi

However, Trinamool leaders may draw comfort from the fact that there are no elections in the state till the summer of 2018 when the rural polls may be held. Neither Saradha, nor the Narada sting operation could make any impact on the vote bank of Trinamool Congress that won as many as 211 out of 294 seats in the Bengal assembly in the 2016 polls.

In the meantime, Bengal appeared moving towards a free-for-all demonstration. While Mamata Banerjee announced ‘nationwide’ protests, opposition parties too targeted the ruling party. The Left Front even went to the extent of harping on a tacit understanding between Modi and Mamata. It planned to hit the streets on Wednesday demanding arrest of senior leaders of the ruling party.

“Why is CBI only arresting low ranking leaders and not netting the big fish? Why are they not recovering the money cheated out of commoners,” said CPI(M) in a statement that also announced a mammoth procession which will be taken out in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Needless to say, the ‘big fish’ they referred to was the chief minister herself.

Read | Mamata scared of CBI probe, that’s why she let loose TMC goons: BJP

First Published: Jan 04, 2017 11:39 IST