Amid the CBI’s investigation into multi-crore chit fund scams in West Bengal and involvement of the ruling party leaders in them, a DNA report has put forth some affidavits submitted by TMC in 2011-12 and 2012-12 which show the sale of CM Mamta Banerjee’s paintings at an exorbitant price.
As per affidavit submitted by TMC to Election Commission in the year 2011-12, when the party ascended to power in West Bengal, it obtained Rs 3,93,90,000 and in the subsequent year of 2012-13, it obtained Rs 2,53,00,000 by the sale of CM Banerjee paintings. In total, Rs 6,46,90,000 were collected through these years by the sale of CM’s paintings.
Interestingly, not a single penny was collected in the year before its rise to power and from 2013-14 and 2017-18.
According to the report, it is alleged that many of the buyers of these paintings were head of several Ponzi scheme firms who had gone behind bars in 2012 when the scandals got exposed, and coincidently no buying of such paintings happened after 2012-13.
Last month, CBI had even questioned Manik Majumdar, a close aide of the West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, about the sale proceeds of the paintings and even sent a notice to her party’s MP Derek O’Brien. Majumdar was questioned over how the proceeds of the CM’s paintings were utilised. TMC has long maintained its stand that money obtained from the sale of paintings were utilized for extending operations of Jago Bangla, the mouthpiece newspaper of the party.
While no TMC leader issued a clarification on the DNA report, the opposition has slammed the state government for suspicious sales of paintings and amount received from it.
“Normally it is seen that painters’ sale of paintings is a regular affair and with time their demand and price rise. In this case what we have observed that after TMC ascended to power she suddenly became a reputed painter and after chit fund company bosses were either sent to jail or are absconding, her paintings are no longer in demand, which is highly unlikely” CPI(M) MP Md Salim was quoted by DNA. Salim further said that CM Banerjee had said that her party does not raise funds from public donations but the sale of paintings.
“Now that her paintings were not selling but party expenses have risen manifolds, has her party resorted to patronising syndicate raj and extortion rackets?” He added.
State Congress president Somen Mitra also took a dig at TMC “We will have to find out how much Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings fetched in one year. There are some renowned painters in TMC.” He added that now chit-fund companies have shut-down and their owners are in jail “it should be found out whether the paintings are in their drawing rooms or in the garages.”
BJP national secretary and former party state president Rahul Sinha claimed that this proves Ponzi firms owners bought CM’s paintings and demanded a probe by Election Commission of India.