PLENTY OF DRAMA, BUT NO AN­SWERS ON CHIT FUND SCAM

The New Indian Express - - EDITORIAL -

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.

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