One of the useful little tests of an Indian election looming up over the horizon is that the varied power nodes locally and at the centre start firing the methaphorical legal guns at each other. Such as this fun little case in Kolkata over chit funds, the local police chief and the leading local politician.
To try to put this into non-Indian terms. Mamata Banerjee is the local political power in the same sense that Richard Daley was in Chicago. Modi’s not anything like a Republican but in this sense he is, from a different party and he’s in power in the centre, not locally. So, think the Feds against the local State authorities, mixed in with different political parties. And in the run up to an election.
Add in a nice little local scandal. Chit funds are better known to us as Ponzi schemes. Offer attractive rates of interest, collect the investments, issue the “chits” – the bonds or repayment coupons – then dash off before the chits mature for repayment. So far so obvious as an investment scam.
And yet the local police chief is wanted for questioning over these. And it’s the centre trying to investigate that local police chief. Who is a strong ally of the local politician, Mamata.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee sprung to the defence of Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar on Sunday, a day after sources in the CBI claimed that he had gone missing since he was “wanted for questioning in the chit fund case”. Slamming the BJP for “worst kind of political vendetta”, Banerjee said the Kolkata police chief is among the best in the world and was not absconding as claimed by the CBI. “He is working 24×7, and was on leave for only one day recently. When you spread lies, the lies will always remain lies,” she tweeted.
We’ve even had reports that the centre’s police were arrested by the local ones. As in so many movies about the civil rights era in the US, the Feds battling with the local cops.
As to the truth of what’s really been going on who the heck knows? We out here should really just take it as being part of the election campaign jollity. The centre will be trying to emphasise the unworthiness of the local opposition, that local political power base the unfairness of the centre. Sure, we could all wish that political fights were more elevated than this but they ain’t, often enough.