Every department in Bengal government is scam-tainted: Mukul Roy



The BJP, whose prospects never looked so bright in Bengal, has got 18 parliamentary seats and garnered more then 39% vote share in the state in the general elections. The face of the BJP in Bengal changed after former railway minister and once a trusted aide of Mamata Banerjee, Mukul Roy, joined the BJP. Roy, who led the party from the front, speaks to Indronil Roychowdhury about the state governments financial irregularities and his future political course of action. Excerpts: BJP has got a huge success in Bengal under your stewardship. How do you plan your forward course of action? Our fight for restoring democracy and curbing corruption will continue. The governments undemocratic practices are intertwined with corruption, and it is for establishing the corrupt practices that the government is resorting to undemocratic means. Every department in the state government is scam tainted. I had raised the issue of Biswa Bangla, what was it! Chief minister Mamata Banerjee wanted to register the trade mark in the name of her nephew Abhishek Banerjee. The government was trying to use the Biswa Bangla logo in every government event, in almost every department. Whatever the government would earn, Banerjee sought to get a royalty out of it. Biswa Bangla Marketing Corporation was wrongfully incorporated. As a state government-run company, the governor should have held majority of the shares. Instead, the West Bengal State Export Promotion Society held 99.9% shares, which again violated the Society Registration Act. A society cannot run a business. Take the case of Metro Diary. The government sold 15% stake of Metro Diary to Keventers Agro at Rs 84.5 crore. After 15 days, Keventers sold it to Singapore-based private equity firm Mandala Capital for Rs 165 crore. Metro Diary had a high rating from Icra and when the government sold the shares, they were actually valued at around Rs 220 crore. So why did the government release the stake at such a low price? Even in the case of Haldia Petrochemicals, the state appointed Delloitte as its transaction manager. But the government sold 39% of its stake without taking any service from the company. Why was this done? Take the case of power department. West Bengal Power Development Corporation registers 34% TD loss, which means it is a financial loss to the company. Why hasnt the state government participated in the Centres Uday scheme? Why is the CESCs tariff the highest in the country, when the cost at the generation point comes at `3.60 per unit and the regulators permissible margin is up to 16%? Where is the money of the power subsidy, which industrial investors are supposed to get, going? The Centre has already released the funds for that but the government has kept a due of Rs 14,000 crore on account of this subsidy. This is blocking the capital of industries and many have either closed down or have planned to close down for want of capital. Take the case of the agriculture marketing department. The department has been making advances year after year to set up around 36 cold storages across the state, but there is no trace of a single new cold storage. Likewise, there are end number of irregularities and we need to fight to stop those. I think every irregularity calls for a probe. But you cant expect anything from the state law enforcement agencies, when IPS officers sit in political demonstration along with the chief minister. There has been a lot of ruckus on the issue of Saradha. The CBI, ED and other investigative agencies have been seen to be very active in the last five years. Where does the inquiry stand now? Did it have any impact on the election results? Inquiry is still going on and many have been charge sheeted. On the matter of impact, I would say that there were two elections after the Saradha scam broke out. In those two elections, the TMC fared well, although there were massive rigging. In the last panchayat polls, BJP candidates couldnt file nominations in 34% of seats. But the movements of the CBI and the ED had little impact on the polls unless in the latest elections people came to realise that Mamata Banerjee was the biggest beneficiary of the Saradha scam. The Centre has nothing to do with the movements in the CBI. It came to inquire into West Bengal on the direction of the Supreme Court. When the lid was blown off the scam, the BJP first brought you at the point of charge. But now you have led the elections in Bengal. How did this change take place? I had to come across rigid CBI investigations before I could join the BJP. The CBI and ED virtually gave me a clean chit on the Saradha scam. There was a perception created that I am tainted and that was because of my association with the TMC. I held an important position in that party and people had the idea that lots were in my hand. My differences with the TMC started when I protested against the misdeeds but the TMC was not eager to rectify. My differences with the party increased and finally I decided to quit and join the BJP. But, I as TMC fought against the Left Front accepting Mamata Banerjee as the leader to protest the misdeeds of the CPM and restore democracy. If the TMC resorts to corrupt practices and undemocratic means, then you can imagine the long struggle has gone to waste. The TMC government has worked against peoples aspiration. The politics in West Bengal has always been secular in character. But this time we saw the Hindu votes polarising and the religious nationalism influencing the elections a lot. Why is this paradigm shift? First of all, secularism is a vague term. The earlier governments were practicing pseudo secularism. The Trinamool government in the name of secularism has been appeasing the minority Muslims at random, which the majority couldnt accept. This resulted in a Hindu backlash. Second, there was a Modi wave across the country and Bengal couldnt be an exception to that. Third and the most important factor is the peoples love for the country and Modi ji could give a sense among the people that the country would remain safe in his hands, if he was voted back to power. The Balakot air strike created a confidence about Modi ji in the minds of the people. This is first time I am seeing an election fought on the issue of national security and everyone gave it a prime importance. So you accept that the minorities didnt vote for the BJP and there is a fear psychosis working among them. This time, minorities didnt vote in our favour. We are losers in 164 minority-dominated Assembly segments in the state. The TMC got a lead in 104 Assembly segments, the BJP in 26 and the Congress in 9. But we won 18 Lok Sabha seats because of the Hindu backlash. The Hindu backlash was against the government and not against Muslims. So, the minorities need not worry about it. We will have to build up confidence among Muslims and gradually you will see Muslims joining our party and there will be a shift in the voting pattern. It is interesting to note that during the 2011 Assembly polls, the CPM and the Congress took lead in around 89 minority-dominated seats. This time, these seats switched over to the TMC and I expect these seats to switch over to the BJP in the next Assembly elections.