Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said neither she nor her party needed money from the Saradha group and accused the opposition and a section of the media of launching a vilification campaign against her.
"We are neither thieves nor dacoits. To shield the real culprits, lies are being spread against us and abuses are being hurled... There should be a limit to everything. I am still tolerating but that does not mean it is our weakness," Banerjee said in an interview to a local TV channel.
"Neither I nor my party needed money from Saradha (chit fund company). Trinamool is the most transparent party in the country. I paint to raise money for running the party and even for that also, questions are being raised as to whom I am selling my paintings. I am not bound to reply. False campaigns are being made about my meetings," she said.
Without naming jailed Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh, who wanted CBI to question the Chief Minister along with incarcerated Saradha group chairman Sudipta Sen, Banerjee said "limitless uncultured behaviour is being meted out. He (Ghosh) is is saying I should sit face to face. He is an accused lodged in jail. We have arrested him. To save himself, he is saying whatever he wants to. Where is the evidence? There is a distinction between black and white.
"Some people are trying to make a God out of a convict," she said referring to Ghosh who had recently criticised Banerjee over the chit fund scam.
"A section of the media is carrying out a malicious campaign against me and my party. Earlier, there was a rule in media houses to judge what is right or wrong. Nowadays even if we send a rejoinder, they do not bother to publish it. Many chit fund companies have started their own media houses," she said.
Banerjee's comments came at a time when CBI arrested Assamese singer Sadananda Gogoi, former West Bengal DG (Armed Police) Rajat Majumder, East Bengal club official Debabrata Sarkar and businessman Sandhir Agarwal in connection with the Saradha Ponzi scam and interrogated two TMC MPs.
To a question, she said "no one has the power to tarnish our party's image. Similar campaign was launched against us during the last panchayat and Lok Sabha polls but the people have rejected those who launched a vilification campaign and stood by us. People are watching everything and will give a befitting reply."
Stating that her government had taken action after the Saradha group went bust and arrested a party MP (Kunal Ghosh) and others, Banerjee said "we have taken action. We have caught the thieves. We have given charge sheet, formed a Commission and taken steps for returning money to five out of 12 lakh duped investors."
The Chief Minister alleged a conspiracy was on to kill her and lashed out at a section of the media charging "a deliberate attempt is being made to control the government for vested interests in land and business. A conspiracy is on to kill even me.
"I won't be controlled by anybody but only by the masses," Banerjee said.
She said chit fund companies thrived during the Left Front rule and wondered what was BJP doing then.
Referring to the arrest Sahara group owner, which was the sponsor of the Indian cricket team, Banerjee said what was the fault of the cricketers.
"Just two days before the Lok Sabha elections, Arpita Ghosh, our party MP, was summoned by the ED just to harass the party. What was her fault? She was just a salaried staff of a TV channel. What was the fault of legendary actress Aparna Sen who was summoned by investigating agencies? She was working in a magazine. What is the fault of players like Sachin, Sourav and others if the Sahara group owner is arrested!" Banerjee added.