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Home / Politics / Policy /  Saradha scam: CBI to question TMC’s Mukul Roy

Kolkata: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has summoned Mukul Roy, general secretary of the Trinamool Congress party, for questioning in connection with its ongoing investigation into the operations of the Saradha group.

Roy, who is currently in New Delhi, said he would cooperate with the investigating agency and was likely going to turn up at the CBI’s office in Kolkata within a few days.

He denied any wrongdoing.

A key CBI official said Roy may have helped Saradha group chairman Sudipta Sen flee Kolkata after his companies ran aground in March-April 2013, defrauding over a million depositors of an estimated 2,500 crore.

Sen and his accomplices were arrested in Sonmarg, Kashmir, and taken to Kolkata within days of fleeing the city.

According to the official cited above, Sen’s driver Arvind Singh Chauhan has already made a statement to CBI giving details of how Roy had helped the Saradha group chairman flee Kolkata. This person declined to be identified.

Roy is also alleged to have pressurized Sen to invest in dud assets, including newspapers, according to the CBI official, who hinted that he could end up facing several other charges, which are yet not known.

Chauhan, who is currently on bail, couldn’t be contacted.

Roy is by far the most important political leader to have been summoned for questioning by CBI in connection with the Saradha group scam.

The central agency has already taken into custody two Rajya Sabha members of the Trinamool Congress—Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose—for their alleged links with the Saradha group, which ran Ponzi schemes.

In December, CBI arrested Madan Mitra, the state’s sports and transport minister, on charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and misappropriation of funds of the Saradha group.

Ghosh, who used to be the chief executive officer of the Saradha group’s media arm, was the first key Trinamool Congress leader to be detained.

He was arrested by the Kolkata police in November 2013, when the scam was still being probed by the state administration.

By then, he had been suspended by the Trinamool Congress. Ghosh has alleged that the key beneficiaries of the Saradha group were leaders such as Roy and his party.

Under an order of the Supreme Court, the investigation was transferred to CBI in May last year, with specific instruction to dig out the money collected by the Saradha group, which the Kolkata police couldn’t trace.

It isn’t immediately known whether CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED)—the federal agency, which probes foreign exchange violations—have unearthed the cash stash, but the investigation has dealt a body blow to the image of the Trinamool Congress and its leaders.

Leaders of the party said in private that the arrest of Roy is now a distinct possibility, and that they were preparing to deal with it politically.

The Trinamool Congress responded to Mitra’s arrest last month with protest rallies and roadblocks, but the movement fizzled out within days for lack of popular support.

Partha Chatterjee, a spokesperson for the party and a cabinet minister in the state, said on Monday that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is using the CBI to undermine an “honest regional party" for political gains, and that the centre was conspiring to destabilize West Bengal.

The Trinamool Congress will give a fitting reply politically, he added.

With several municipal elections due this year, including a crucial one in Kolkata, Trinamool Congress chief and the state’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee is desperately battling an image crisis.

Roy’s responsibilities within the party were recently scaled back and reassigned to other leaders including Banerjee’s own nephew, Abhishek Banerjee.

Similarly, though she rallied behind Mitra after his arrest and said she wouldn’t field a replacement for him in the state cabinet, another Trinamool Congress leader, Aroop Biswas, was recently asked to look after the sports portfolio.

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