Millennium Post

ED action sparks political brouhaha in West Bengal

ED action sparks political brouhaha in West Bengal
‘The ED all of a sudden has become active before the election. What is it up to? What is the message it is trying to give? It is acting on behalf of its political masters, especially finance Minister P Chidambaram under whose jurisdiction the ED falls,’ Mitra said. His outburst followed chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s flare-up against the SEBI. ‘What was the ED doing for the last one year? What prompted it to jump into action all of a sudden?’ Mitra asked.

Mitra’s salvo at Chidambaram can be traced to the allegations against Nalini Chidambaram, the minister’s wife, in the confession letter written by the jailed Saradha scam chief accused Sudipta Sen.  According to Sen’s statement, he had paid Rs 60 lakh to Nalini Chidamaram as fee for legal consultancy for buying a television channel.

Asked why the SIT, set up by the state government, failed to nab Sudipta Sen’s wife and son, which the ED did, Mitra said, ‘SEBI and RBI have the powers. The SIT and the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission are doing their work. Does the SIT has the power to seize?’

‘If the bill that has been held back by the Centre gets the assent, then we would be legally empowered to deal with the ponzi schemes. The state governments have to be legally empowered,’ he said.

Mitra also attacked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for criticising the West Bengal government over the alleged inaction in the Saradha deposit scandal. ‘His comments show his immaturity and inexperience. He should have inquired after what the state government had done in dealing with the scam and ensuring that those who had been cheated get back their money,’ he said. The state government had made an effort to compensate affected investors and had announced a compensation package of Rs 500 crore to help the victims.

Both Banerjee and Mitra questioned why the ED was silent on other scams across the country. Mitra also claimed that the TMC government’s efforts to take action against these companies were negated by the Centre’s lacklustre attitude in giving assent to the bill passed by the state assembly earlier this year against chit funds.

‘We had written twice to the union home ministry on why the bill, passed by our Assembly, has not been sent for presidential assent. There has been no reply. It has to be answered why even after incorporating the points it (Centre) has raised, the bill is yet to be sent for assent,’ Mitra said. He added the assent to the bill would give the government teeth it required to deal with the Ponzi schemes. ‘We are worried about this delay in getting the presidential assent.’
Nandini Guha

Nandini Guha

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