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Note

Of Sarada, TET and Others

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Right now, the Sarada affair, perhaps the largest financial scandal has gone to the Supreme Court and the petitioners have demanded a CBI probe. The West Bengal Government is however desperate not to allow the work of investigation to slip out of their hands. Its lawyers have argued that a CBI probe would delay the process and justice would be denied to the depositors, many of whom have been reduced to a state of destitution. But the fact is that more than Rs 20 billion worth of assets, monetary or non-monetary, of the Sarada group is as yet untraced, and the government-appointed investigators are unable to say where this money went. Any person can understand that unless these assets are recovered, there is no question of doing justice to the depositors. The state government formed a fund of a little more than Rs 5 billion to return the money, thus trying to shift the burden on to the shoulders of the tax-paying public of West Bengal. This amount, again, is too small. After the burst of the Sarada bubble, a large number of agents had to commit suicide and Sudipta Sen, chief of the fraudulent company went into hiding. The present government of West Bengal, patently in order to save itself, arrested Sen. Mukul Roy and Kunal Ghosh were important leaders of the Trinamul Congress and the latter used to get a salary of Rs 1.5 million per month from the Sarada as a journalist; one may compare it with the salaries received by leading journalists like M J Akbar, Khusbant Singh etc. When this matter came to light, the Chief Minister tried to brazen it out by saying that possibly Kunal Ghosh received such a fat amount because he served five or six media channels at a time. The Chief Minister perhaps wanted to imply that Kunal Ghosh worked for 40-50 hours a day in these channels; otherwise no question of serving five or six channels at a time can arise. A few months later, she, out of her own murky reasons, got Kunal Ghosh arrested. She herself, it may be pointed out, got Rs 18.6 million as the ‘sale price’ of a piece of painting made by her. Mamata Banerjee, who is a full-time politician, may be the envy of the leading painters of this country. That piece of artistic creation is, however, as yet untraced. According to the statement by Kunal Ghosh, many leaders and ministers of the Trinamul Congress were deeply involved in the Sarada scam.

So it is clear that Mamata Banerjee's desperate bid to retain the business of investigation in her own hands is born out of the fear that she and her trusted lieutenants might stand exposed as accomplices of the great swindler.

But the chit fund connection of the Trinamul Congress has by no means ended with the arrest of Sudipta Sen and Kunal Ghosh. Recently, Mr K D Singh, the owner of a large chit fund company, and Mr Ahmed Hasan Imran, a journalist of small reputation who became the editor of a daily of the Sarada group, has been sent to the Rajya Sabha by the Trinamul Congress. A little after becoming the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee issued a directive naming the newspepers to be subscribed by government libraries and on that list was the name of that daily, Kalam. The daily was patently born out of the honeymoon of Mamata Banerjee with the Sarada group. A few words about Mr K D Singh. In the earlier term of the Rajya Sabha, he contested as a candidate of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. He reportedly ‘purchased’ necessary votes from the market and at that time, the scandal of horse-trading was published in the news media, and a legal suit is still continuing in this matter. K D Singh deserted his original outfit to join the Trinamul Congress, and being the lone representative of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, he did not fall within the purview of the anti-defection law. He realized that after the expiry of the term, he would not be reelected from Jharkhand, and hence got elected before hand from West Bengal. By nominating K D Singh for the Rajya Sabha, Mamata Banerjee and her men have demonstrated that they have been serving as spokesmen for moneybags and fraudulent chit funds.

Let us comment on the TET (Teachers' Eligibility Test) scandal. Only 1.07 % of the examinies was allowed to pass and candidates with higher qualifications have been rejected. Those who have been selected include first of all, the relatives and close acquaintances of Trinamul Congress leaders and secondly those who could afford to pay heavy bribes. This correspondent has heard from the guardians of qualified, but unsuccessful candidates that Trinamul Congress leaders were asking for several lakhs of rupees per candidate for selection. The president of the Board of Primary Education has cited examples of selection of the relatives of CPI(M) leaders in order to justify his own corrupt practice. Owing to the internal rift in the Trinamul Congress, the audio tape of the conversation between an aggrieved Trinamul Congress activist and the president of a District Primary Education Board got leaked out, in which the president said clearly that the list of successful candidates were made by her in consultation with TMC leaders. The minsiter of education, Mr Bratya Basu shamelessly refused to order an investigation.

It is natural that as the corrupt face of the Trinamul Congress gets increasingly exposed, this outfit should increasingly rely on money and muscle power in order to win at the hustings. This is exactly what is happening in West Bengal today. But the CPI(M) has largely lost its fighting capability owing to its infamous records of the not too distant past. Protests are there, but they are not yet enough to influence the election results in a decisive manner.

Frontier
Vol. 46, No. 44, May 11 -17, 2014