New Delhi: The political circuit has been set abuzz with speculation about the real reason for Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting here with Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled for Wednesday at a time when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is trying to locate the former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to question him in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.
According to official sources here, Banerjee has had Kolkata sweets home-delivered to Modi at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg a day before their meeting, where she is also expected to raise the issue of pending projects in West Bengal. Banerjee flew to Delhi on Tuesday, which was also Modi’s birthday.
Congress party Bengal unit President Somen Mitra has accused Banerjee of making a desperate bid to ensure an “escape route” for Kumar, who is currently untraceable.
“Do we understand that Honourable CM of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee is going to Delhi on the day PM Modi celebrates his birthday, and as return gift for the birthday wishes, request an escape route for the ex-Commissioner of Kolkata Police in the Saradha chit fund scam?”, Mitra asked.
The state BJP in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya also dubbed it as the “last-ditch bid” of the fiery Bengal leader to save the police officer regarded as being close to her.
Earlier, not only was a CBI team looking to question Kumar detained by the Kolkata Police, but Banerjee herself sat on a ‘dharna’ to protest of the CBI team visiting Kumar’s residence.
“Why is she seeking a meeting with PM Modi all of a sudden is anybody’s guess”, Vijayvargiya said, recalling Banerjee’s sharp criticism of Modi during the 2019 general election campaign.
The last time the two leaders met was at the convocation ceremony at Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan on May 25, 2018.
The Rs 2,500-crore Saradha chit fund scam involved a ponzi scheme that defrauded small investors and poor people with promises of astronomical returns. When the fraud came to light, several victims ended up committing suicide.
Many top Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders’ names have been dragged into the scam investigation, including sitting MP Shatabdi Roy and former MP Kunal Ghosh. TMC leader Derek O’Brien has been quizzed in the matter by the investigation agency.
With the CBI now looking for Kumar, there is visible discomfort within the ranks of the TMC.