April 26, 2014
Look who`s shedding crocodile tears over corruption
Like the police in Hindi films, who arrive after the operative part of the script is over, the Congress has suddenly woken up to the Saradha scandal, a chit fund swindle in which leading lights of the CPI(M) and Congress itself are involved. Abhishek Singhvi, the Congress spokesperson addressed a press conference today and demanded a CBI inquiry into the chit fund and its affairs.
This is rich, coming from a party that is shedding crocodile tears over corruption on the eve of voting. Frankly, we don`t trust the CBI. For close to 70 years, it has been the Congress Bureau of Investigation. In the past 10 years, it has been manipulated by the ruling party to protect itself and its cronies in the 2G scandal, the coal scandal and a host of other corruption cases – ranging from civil aviation and Air-India to S-band spectrum and Devas.
We wonder what the CBI managed to do in the killings in Netai and Nandigram, in the state-sponsored violence in Singur and the Gyaneshwari Express sabotage. Does the Congress even remember these episodes? Does Mr Singhvi know how to spell those nouns? In our experience, the CBI delays and obfuscates; its political masters seldom allow it to bring an investigation to fruition. We are determined not to let this happen to the victims of Saradha.
As of 2011, the number of pending cases with the CBI is 2300, with 458 pending cases in Bengal alone. The numbers must have gone up in the last three years. So many pending cases only implies that the credibility of CBI is at stake. Why are so many cases pending?
It is imperative, Mamata Banerjee believes, that the guilty must be punished and investors must get back their money.The Trinamool Congress government has taken stern action in the Saradha affair. We moved quickly to arrest the kingpin from hiding in faraway Jammu and Kashmir. We appointed a Judicial Commission that has already compensated 4 lakh investors, with a promise of more to come. In living memory, this kind of compensation has happened nowhere in India.
The West Bengal government moved legislation on the chit fund issue and sent it to the President for consent. The Union government got back with suggestions. We addressed these and sent the Bill back for approval. That is where it is pending. We have sent two reminders to Home Minister Sushil Shinde but he hasn`t bothered to reply. Can Mr Singhvi enlighten us on this? Why is this happening?
There is the issue of regulation of chit funds. A substantial role in this is played by the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The West Bengal state government has little influence on these institutions. The Union government and the Finance Ministry do have leverage, however. Have they acted in any worthwhile manner? Instead of distorting facts and resorting to mealy-mouthed diversions, Mr Singhvi and his party should answer those questions.