WB chit fund media fiasco: Could this be Mamata's Waterloo?

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Kolkata, April 20: The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal has found itself in trouble over the alleged involvement of some of its leaders with the Saradha Group, a chit fund company in the state, which has recently crumbled, throwing several people out of job.

While an FIR was lodged against the managing director of the group, Sudipta Sen, on Thursday, a number of TMC leaders took a dig at their party colleagues for their alleged involvement with Saradha Group and similar other organisations.

A section of the frontline leaders said that such MPs, MLAs and ministers associated with the chit fund firms that dupe people for money, should be expelled so that the party's pro-poor image was saved.

Several employees of the Saradha Group gathered in front of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's house demanding a bail-out from the situation. They said the shutdown has put them in danger as those who have invested in the firm will not spare them.

Many agents of the company said they are afraid to return home fearing to be lynched. They have been demanding the arrest of Sen, who has been absconding.

But such organisations have been functioning in the state for quite some time now. Why didn't the government take any step against them while they were duping thousands? Banerjee's party proudly claims that it always serves the poor. Then why did her party ignore the plight of its constituencies across the state? Even one MP of the TMC was associated with the media cluster of the Saradha Group. Didn't the CM know about what was cooking behind her back?

This question has put the party leadership in an uneasy situation. Some senior leaders claimed that they had been speaking against the chit fund businesses that have been duping the poor people time and again. But nobody bothered to take any step on this, they alleged.

Senior MP Somen Mitra said he had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to protect the helpless against these firms and the letter had created controversy in the party, a news report said.

These companies, which also invested in media businesses, had reportedly influenced the chief minister to provide state preferences for their newspapers and also engage in various social service.

If Banerjee is worried over the unemployment of several employees of the media houses now, then why did she backed them in the beginning? Most of these media products sided with the TMC government and the state government was more than happy to witness the patron-client politics going on.

The matter could prove to be detrimental for the ruling party in the next panchayat polls, due in some time. According to a report, some agents and investors said they relied on Saradha because it involved names of local TMC leaders and now with the luck of the Saradha running out, chances are high that the party could bear the brunt of the public outrage in the rural polls.

The urban people who lost their jobs because of the shutdown might even find an alternative cropping up somewhere, but for those distant people who lost their entire life's savings, it is not something that could be easily forgotten. There is very little chance of Banerjee scripting a turnaround from the prevailing state of affairs and the TMC reaping any benefit in the next rural polls, irrespective of Sen's arrest.

Senior TMC leader and former Union minister Mukul Roy blamed the previous Left Front government for the rise of these organisations.To this, the CPI(M) said that they had taken an initiative to pass a bill to clip the wings of the chit funds companies but the Banerjee government did not take any care.

What is the conclusion, nobody knows but one thing is clear: The TMC has started to pay for its fragile political identity. The Saradha debacle would prove to be the Waterloo for both the party and the government.

OneIndia News

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