CBI nets Trinamool MP in chit fund scam, Mamata decries ‘vendetta politics’ (Roundup)

Kolkata, Dec 30 (IANS) Popular Bengali actor and Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Paul was on Friday arrested by the CBI for his alleged involvement in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam, prompting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accusing the Narendra Modi government of pursuing “vendetta politics”.

Paul’s arrests comes days after Banerjee, who has been virtually at war with Modi over demonetisation, called for the Prime Minister to step down.

While the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist welcomed the arrest, the Trinamool in turn accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of being involved in a chit fund scam and dubbed the action as a fallout of their opposition to demonetisation.

Associated earlier with the Group as a director, Paul was grilled for several hours at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office here before being arrested.

“Paul used to promote the group for which he was paid both in cash and kind. He failed to give satisfactory explanations about his financial transactions with the group,” said a CBI officer.

The Lok Sabha member from Krishnanagar in Nadia district is among several Trinamool leaders to be arrested by the CBI.

The agency had earlier arrested former Trinamool Rajya Sabha member Srinjoy Bose and suspended Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh besides then West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra for their alleged involvement in the multi-crore rupee Saradha group scam.

Paul’s Kolkata residence was in march raided CBI sleuths, as part of a crackdown on Rose Valley which is one of the many Bengal-based companies accused of raising crores of rupees through illegal collective investment schemes.

Banerjee, who has been repeatedly accusing the Modi government of using central agencies to “pressurise” and “silence” the Trinamool, minced no words in attacking the Prime Minister.

“I will not be surprised if they arrest all our MPs. Arrest all my MPs. How many MLAs will you arrest,” asked the Trinamool supremo.

Reiterating her demand for Modi to quit for his “failure” on demonetisation, Banerjee went on to accuse him of “marketing” Chinese companies in India in the name of Paytm and sought a probe into the allegations.

“Why are these companies sponsored by our PM? What is the hidden agenda? We want to know publicly,” said Banerjee who will be leading Trinamool’s “Modi Hatao Desh Bachao” campaign from January seeking Modi’s ouster.

Banerjee also claimed the BJP was “connected to Pearl Group chit fund scam worth Rs 50,000 crore”.

She also questioned Union Minister Babul Supriyo and BJP leader Rupa Ganguly’s association with Rose Valley.

Trinamool Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien subsequently posted a video of Supriyo on Ywitter where the singer-turned politician is seen saying at several events of Rose Valley and also expressed his “gratitude towards Group chairman Gautam Kundu”.

O’Brien also posted a picture of Supriyo alongside Sahara chief Subrata Roy with the caption: “Modi babu, did you miss this? ‘Sahara’ Roy and… you preaching on corruption.”

The CPI-M welcomed Paul’s arrest.

“Paul is just a small fish. There are many bigger fishes who all should be netted. Those who have looted poor people money cannot be allowed to live in peace,” said its legislator Sujon Chakraborty.

State BJP President Dilip Ghosh said the development was expected.

“Another Trinamool MP has been summoned but he is scared to present himself,” he said referring to Lok Sabha member Sudip Bandyopadhyay who too has been summoned by the CBI for questioning.

Having cast its net across the states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand and Maharashtra among others, the company is alleged to have illegally raised several thousand crore of rupees from the public.

Besides the CBI, the Group is also being investigated by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and the Enforcement Directorate which had arrested Kundu in 2015 and in September this year attached assets worth Rs 1,250 crore of the company.