West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said her government would inquire into the source of funds allegedly held by two Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders in a joint bank account.
The CPI-M claimed that the account was of the party state committee but admitted its mistake in keeping party funds in accounts opened in the name of its leaders. However, CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose trashed Banerjee's allegation of lack of transparency.
Addressing panchyat poll rallies for her party Trinamool Congress in the neighbouring North 24 Parganas district, Banerjee accused the central government of ignoring such "financial irregularities".
Mamata Banerjee government to probe CPI-M leaders' joint bank account
Banerjee also questioned how Bose could have a "personal account" with Rs 16 crore in it when he did not even possess a PAN card and was only a party wholetimer.
"What would have happened had you or I had even Rs 1 lakh? The Income Tax Department and the CBI would have grilled us and arrested us. And how much does Biman Bose earn? He is only party wholetimer."
"We will probe the source of this Rs.16 crore. Where did this come from? Did it fall from the skies?" asked Banerjee.
Iterating that the account was with a public sector bank, she said: "Why is the central government silent? In other cases they unleash the CBI? Why aren't they doing so now? Is it because they are blind or they have cataract? Or is it because they have a strong tie-up with the CPI-M?" Banerjee asked, and accused the Marxist party of siphoning off funds during its 34-year rule in West Bengal.
Meanwhile, Bose admitted that parking party funds in personal accounts opened in his name and that of another politburo member Nirupam Sen was a "mistake".
"We did not know that this was improper. It was a mistake on our part. The bank too never told us.
"The letter for opening the account was given on the official letterhead of the party. We were told in June 2013 that it was wrong. And then we wrote to the bank to transfer the funds in the account into a new account in the name of the party state committee," he said.
Bose said he and former state party secretary Sailen Dasgupta were the original joint holders of the account. "After Sailen Dasgupta died in 2001, Nirupam Sen's name was included in the account," he said.
Countering Banerjee's allegation, Bose said: "There is total transparency in the account. The account statement was submitted to the Income Tax Department and the Election Commission of India every year. All details of the account were given to the auditors during audit of the party accounts."
Bose said the state committee got Rs 45 lakh as levy collected from members every month. "The party also gets levies from the MPs and legislators. The amount collected through special fund drives are also deposited in the account."