PLENTY OF DRAMA, BUT NO ANSWERS ON CHIT FUND SCAM
An unedifying political theatre continues to debase West Bengal. After Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s dharna in the company (and defence) of the top cop of Kolkata, now we have the latter being grilled for hours by the CBI in Shillong, Meghalaya. He reached the interrogation venue in a cavalcade, accompanied by other police brass. At the centre of the vortex is a murky ponzi scheme that wiped away the life-savings of small investors across states, with the loot allegedly being pocketed by power-brokers and, perhaps, politicians. What was required, doubtless, was a steadfast, no-holds-barred investigation by a non-partisan probe agency— to ensure those who made merry with the blood and sweat of poor Indians were made an example of, a court-monitored compensation to victims and stringent policy measures to bring an end to dubious chit funds. Instead, we have a B-grade potboiler.
The CBI, assigned by the Supreme Court to probe the Saradha scam, had long failed to produce any tangible results. Now it has woken up to its onerous task on the eve of a Lok Sabha election. The subsequent turns in the plot—with Mamata projecting it melodramatically as an onslaught on the federal structure —was but inevitable. The CBI’s current image does not help: It’s seen as a den of tainted, pliable officials. If the CBI brass thought they could outwit Mamata, they were proved wholly wrong. When they swooped down on the top cop’s residence on a Sunday to sniff out missing case papers, without intimating the state authorities nor entirely backed by the courts, Mamata easily turned that into a rallying point for the whole opposition. Does all this bring succour to those who were cheated? Not quite. All we are left with is a rich fund of ironies: a Mamata who wasn’t being particularly democratic in disallowing opposition rallies now falling back on constitutional safeguards.