Saradha Group donated heavily to Trinamool govt, bought Mamata's art

Mamata BanerjeeWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a press conference at Writers Building in Kolkata. (IE photo)

When the Saradha Group's Bengali daily Sakalbela began publication, Mamata Banerjee sent her best wishes. It was more than a customary greeting. It was an impassioned message that seemed to have come from the chief minister's heart. (Also read: SEBI digs deeper, chit scam gets bigger )

"We will have to pass the dark night to begin our journey in the light of dawn," she said. "An alert conscience, right direction, truth and fearless news is what people like. Today, many papers have deviated from that principle, and news has assumed personal and commercial dimensions. Let Sakalbela fulfill the people's aspirations."

In his 18-page letter to the CBI, Saradha group CMD Sudipta Sen named two Trinamool Congress MPs who he alleged had "blackmailed" him, "forced" him to buy several publications that formed the once formidable bouquet of the group's media businesses. (Also read: Union minister Chowdhury: Did not know about chit fund when I backed Saradha Realty )

TMC leaders including Mamata have consistently denied or downplayed the party's links with Sen and Saradha. But mounting evidence suggests that the TMC, and its ministers and leaders, had been working closely with the company even before coming to power in Kolkata.

The relationship only grew deeper with time. Evidence of patronage from the Trinamool — for Saradha and other chit fund companies who raised money from poor investors — formed the basis for the plea for a CBI inquiry in a PIL that came up for hearing in Calcutta High Court on Thursday.

* On her maiden visit to Junglemahal after assuming office in July 2011, Mamata took along some "presents" for the people: seven well-equipped ambulances fitted out with critical care units, 50 motorbikes, 1,050 bicycles. All were donated by the Saradha Group.

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