Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee's government feels the heat as one of the largest chit fund companies in West Bengal collapses. Fearing a backlash from upset investors, thousands of the Saradha Group agents have gathered in Kolkata seeking state government's intervention. But the company's proximity to the Trinamool Congress has put the government in a corner.
"If the government does something for us, then it's fine. Then they'll get votes else we have to commit suicide," says Lakshmi Haldar, one of the collection agents of the Saradha Group.
Meanwhile, the Saradha Group Chairman Sudipto Sen has gone into hiding. The group, which owned several pro-Trinamool Congress newspapers and television channels, said earlier in April that they would close most of their media companies. One of their employees has now filed a case against Sen and other directors.
"Salaries have not been paid. Some of the employees have not been paid for three months. Our income tax deducted from source has not been deposited with the IT department. Our provident fund again has not been deposited with the authorities," alleges Anish Gupta, former coordinating editor 'The Bengal Post'.
The Trinamool Congress, however, has passed the buck to the Left. "It is a false, baseless and concocted allegation. I strongly say that these kind of non-banking financial institutions were constituted during the time of the Left Front government and with connivance with the central government. That time the UPA I was there, they have started all this. The Trinamool Congress has nothing to do with this, said Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy.
Dozens of chit fund companies, big and small, operate in West Bengal and the collapse of the Saradha Group has triggered panic among depositors at other companies too leading to street fights such as in Barasat in the northern fringes of Kolkata. Several offices of the Saradha Group and others have been ransacked in the districts in the past few days. This could well be Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's toughest challenge yet.