Trinamool, CPI-M trade charges on chit-fund firms

Kolkata, April 20 (IANS) West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress Saturday refuted alleged links with chit-fund companies accused of financial irregularities, and said they were set up when the Left Front was ruling the state and the UPA-I was in power in New Delhi.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has accused the Trinamool Congress of using newspapers and TV channels controlled by one of the chit-fund companies Saradha Group for political publicity.

The state Congress charged the Mamata Banerjee-led government with having “very close relations” with Saradha Group, which is facing money laundering charges, and demanded that it should bring out a white paper on the alleged relationship.

“It is a false and baseless allegation. The Trinamool Congress has nothing to do with it,” Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy told reporters here.

“These types of non-banking financial companies were constituted at the time of the Left Front government in the state and the (Congress-led) United Progressive Alliance-I government at the centre,” Roy said.

“There are many people who are blaming (former chief minister) Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the then UPA government at the centre for allowing these firms to come up,” he said.

Roy said the state government would take measures “within the law specified” against the firms for duping depositors.

Over 1,000 agents of the Saradha Group Friday held a demonstration in front of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s house here, urging her to bail them out, many offices of the group were attacked across the state Saturday. There were incidents of clashes between the agents and the depositors.

The Trinamool Congress leader, however, said “this types of problems” were also occurring in states like Assam, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

“But our government is very serious and the chief minister has said that all sorts of actions will be taken. As per my knowledge, the government is making arrangements to bring in a rule,” Roy said.

Saradha Group is one of the largest chit fund companies in eastern India. It has also diversified into construction, realty, tourism, hospitality, agri-businesses and media.

As capital market regulator SEBI started taking actions against chit-fund companies for flouting rules, which raised concerns over safety of public money, pressure on the group’s finances mounted.

Crisis in the group was brewing recently, which forced it to recently close at least 10 newspapers and TV channels, that it had launched or acquired since 2010. Over 1,000 journalists and non-journalists have been rendered jobless.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Saturday alleged that the ruling Trinamool Congress used the chit fund companies politically.

“They used chit-funds for political interests to come into power and to remain there,” said Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra.

Mishra also accused that the ruling party had used the print and electronic media under the Saradha Group for political publicity.

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