Mamata should stop protests, fight legally

The Rs 2000-crore Saradha scam is one of the worst financial frauds of recent times in which millions of people lost their money. Many lost their life savings and some committed suicide. The ponzi scheme which operated mainly in West Bengal and some eastern states was headquartered in Kolkata.

It was known for long that the scheme had the involvement and patronage of the high and mighty. After the arrest of Saradha group chairman Sudipto Sen last year, some political leaders have also been arrested. The latest to be arrested by the CBI is Madan Mitra, West Bengal’s transport minister and a trusted aide of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Instead of welcoming the investigation so that the guilty can be brought to book, Mamata Banerjee has chosen to find in it a conspiracy against her and her party. She has gone to the streets to rouse the Trinamool Congress cadres against the CBI. Even the proceedings in the court where Mitra was produced were disrupted.

The arrests of Trinamool Congress leaders, including Mitra, are a serious blow to the party and Mamata Banerjee. But it is wrong on her part to launch a tirade against the CBI and to incite and provoke the cadres and the people against the investigative agency, when she is the chief minister and holds the home portfolio.

The CBI had actually been laggard in its investigation and only after judicial strictures and prompting did it go after the powerful persons involved in the fraud. As chief minister, Mamata Banerjee should be more concerned about the people who lost their money in the fraud than about the few leaders of her party who were hand in glove with the fraudsters. By defending them she is undermining her office. Politically also, it will hurt her because she is going against the public opinion in the state which holds many Trinamool leaders guilty of misdemeanour in the  scam.

Staging mass rallies, holding protests in Parliament, practising mob politics and unleashing of unruly cadres will not help Mamata Banerjee to counter the investigation. The charges against the leaders are serious. If she believes they are not guilty, the prosecution should be legally challenged and the charges should be disproved in courts. She cannot just dismiss them.

Countering the charges with a conspiracy theory will not convince people of the innocence of those who are under a cloud now. Mamata is protesting too much and too loudly and that itself casts doubts about the genuineness of her claims and counter-charges.

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