Bengal's Saradha petition- How Mamata prevailed over a reluctant bureaucracy

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Kolkata, Jan 23: The West Bengal government filed a very interesting petition before the Supreme Court almost alleging a witch hunt by the CBI probing the Saradha scam. While it is to be seen what the Supreme Court says on the matter, an interesting fact is that the entire state machinery was a divided house where this petition was concerned.

First and foremost a majority of the senior officers were not in favour of the petition being filed by the State Government. They had suggested that the petition be filed by a depositor cheated by the Saradha group. There were a series of meeting between Mamata Banerjee and the bureaucracy over this issue and ultimately Mamata's opinion prevailed.

TMC

Bureacrats vs Mamata Banerjee:

Right from the contents of the petition to who shall file it there was complete disagreement between the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary of the state. The Chief Secretary had repeatedly told Mamata Banerjee that it would read very badly on the state government if it filed a petition to this effect.

The bureaucracy also felt that the contents were too strong and it was giving an impression that the state was trying to cover something up. However the CM was adamant and said that it would be her way only. There is a need to tell the Supreme Court that we are being targeted by the CBI and we will do it in the strongest possible words, she also ordered.

The top rung of the bureaucracy was, however, not impressed and said that they would not sign the affidavit as is mandated before the Supreme Court. They felt that there is a good chance of strictures being passed against the state government and in such an event it is the chief secretary who has to take responsibility and bear the brunt.

After much debate and disagreement the affidavit was finally signed by the joint secretary of the home department of state. It was quite surprising to see the join secretary to sign an affidavit before the Supreme Court since he is relatively a junior level officer.

Bureaucracy felt that it would harm reputation:

Since the past two weeks there have been scores of meetings between the CM and the Chief Secretary, The Chief Secretary argued that this petition which basically seeks a directive to monitor the CBI probe into the Saradha scam has a good chance of being rejected by the Supreme Court.

Further the CM was also told that the Supreme Court is already monitoring the probe as it was the court which had ordered a CBI probe in the first place. In such an event it would be foolish to seek monitoring of a probe that is already being monitored.

Moreover this petition is being filed at a time when the CBI has clearly indicated that it would petition the Supreme Court seeking the shifting the trial out of West Bengal as it feels threatened by some elements in the party.

A political petition:

Going through the contents of the petition it becomes amply clear that it is political in nature. The argument by the Chief Secretardy was how can an officer be a signatory to a petition that is political in nature.

A bureaucrat cannot be a signatory where allegations against a political party are made. The TMC has alleged that the CBI is conducting the probe as per the directives of the BJP. These are straight forward political allegations and the state government cannot file a petition of this nature.

It was suggested by the bureaucracy that when petitions are political in nature the state government cannot file it. Although it is a TMC run government, they are first the government of West Bengal and then the political party-TMC.

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