Sharada and Rose Valley were cut-throat chit fund firms in several eastern states. People who took shares even of a hundred rupees and became investors, were given the rosy promise of 15 to 50 per cent annual returns, a plot of land plus time-share in holiday resorts. Thus Sharada roped in lakhs of gullible investors to their fold. The deceit is the well-known pyramid mode of giving the senior investors the amounts as profits, which it receives the new depositors.
No sooner did 'Sebi' and Reserve Bank of India entered the scene and put a brake on the illegal transactions of the company, than the company was found tottering. The allegation raised against the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress is that the firm had worked with the support of Trinamool Congress. As evidence, critics cited that Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh had functioned as Manager of Sharada's Media Division, (when the company had raised huge capital estimated at Rs 1,200 to 4,000 crore), that Shatabdi Roy had appeared as its brand ambassador, and that chief minister Mamata had inaugurated two officers of the firm. The bad fate of Sharada soon hit its successor Rose Valley too. A special investigation team (SIT) led by Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar probed the allegations of financial misappropriation and irregularities of the firm, but it was alleged tthat the probe was moving at snail pace. With this, the CBI intervened in the matter and as early as last year, got in touch with the state police chief too. The demand of the CBI was that it wanted to interrogate the entire police force who were part of the SIT. When it approached the Supreme Court in the matter, as CBI recalls, the DGP had promised all assistance and co-operation in the investigation. CBI also cites the provision in Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DPSA) on the strength of which the CBI had the power to question any one anywhere in the country. However, using the special powers of the state, West Bengal had, as done by Andhra Pradesh earlier, rescinded this independent authority of CBI. And hence the argument by Mamata and her supporters that they are defending against this encroachment.
However, the CBI's action cannot be termed solely as atransparent investigation related to the chit fund case. With the Lok Sabha elections drawing near, and with increasing setbacks felt by BJP in the northeastern states, the Modi-Amit Shah duo harbours vain hopes of shoring up BJP's fortunes by winning more seats in West Bengal. And that operation takes the form of attempts to tame Mamata. The BJP government in the Centre, which is all too enthusiastic to enquire about Trinamool's role in the chit funds scam, however glosses over the fact that several former Trinamool MP's who are now in the BJP camp including Mukul Roy, are 'accused' in the case. So far, it is after the arrest of two suspects close to TMC that the arms of CBI are turning towards Rajeev Kumar. They are insistent that crucial evidence in the hands of Rajeev Kumar are to be seized from him. But Mamata - quite firm in her convicton that the entire operation is used as a cover to rein in her politically – is getting braced up for a strong counter attack.
Mamata has by now crippled CPM to the extent that it cannot think of a comeback in the near future. And now she is opposing BJP tooth and nail who makes attempts to step into that vacuum. One who fell out with the Modi government, she refused to roll out the Centre's health care programme Ayushman Bharat in her native state. And with an incessant war of words with Amit Shah, Mamata also refused permission for his rat yatra. Most recently, she even denied permission for entry of the chopper of Yogi Adityanath. In the meantime, a massive Opposition rally was organized on 20 Januay that trampled down the remaining BJP ambitions in Bengal. And it was closely after the Opposition meet on 1st Feb to take a common position against electronic voting mchine (EVM), that Modi and Amit Shah turned to Kolkatta with the usual moves to decimate political adversaries.
But Mamata's posture is one of defiance to the effect of saying that their game should stop at Bengal's border. Initial signals are that the attempts to immobilize Mamata have derailed in its first phase. At the same time, doubts also linger about how long Mamata can hold out against the law . She is confident that she can overpower BJP too with increased popular support, in the same way she beat the Congress and CPM head on. On the whole, Mamata's confidence against the anti-democratic Fascist order seeking to tackle opponents through deceitful strategy, should provide some solace to the country.