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Did Saradha group bag contract with IRCTC during Mamata Banerjee's tenure as Rly Min?

Fresh political controversy breaks out after several media outlets claimed that Indian Railways-owned IRCTC entered into a contract with Saradha Group-run Saradha Tours and Travels for operating tourist services to different destinations during Mamata Banerjee's tenure as Railways Minister

New Delhi: A fresh political controversy broke out after allegations surfaced that Indian Railways-owned IRCTC had entered into a contract with Saradha Group-run Saradha Tours and Travels for operating tourist services to different destinations.

Former minister of state for Railways Adhir Chowdhury demanded that the CBI, which is probing the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam on a Supreme Court directive, probe whether Saradha was favoured unduly. The contract happened during Mamata Banerjee's tenure as Railway Minister.

Mamata BanerjeeMamata Banerjee

"Whether set guidelines had been flouted in giving Saradha the contract should be investigated and whether IRCTC had favoured it should be found out," Chowdhury, who is at present a Congress MP and West Bengal Pradesh Congress president, said.

On his part, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said, "Railways will not institute a separate probe into the alleged tie-up between IRCTC and Saradha Group-owned travel company as the CBI was investigating into the matter in its totality."

"There is no need for a separate investigation by the Railways. The CBI is investigating the Saradha Group issue. Law will take its own course irrespective of whosoever is found guilty," Sinha told reporters.

TMC has denied any charges on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying that it is open to any kind of probe.

Last week, questioning the success rate of CBI in solving cases, Mamata Banerjee had described investigation by the agency into Saradha Chit Fund scam as a ploy to save the real culprits and use it to defame the state government.

"You can check the records, the success rate of CBI is very poor. CBI has been used by the party that is at the Centre to corner its political opponents by using malicious and pressure tactics," Banerjee had said.

Banerjee's statement came in the backdrop of CBI and the Enforcement Directorate closing in on the Saradha money trail and raids and interrogations of various influential persons making headlines everyday.

CBI being used as political weapon by central government: TMC

Kolkata: Peeved by allegations that Saradha Group was favoured in getting a contract from IRCTC, a railway catering and tourism wing, Trinamool Congress today claimed that CBI, which is probing the multi-crore chit fund scam, is being used as a political weapon by the Centre.

"Earlier CBI was known as the Congress Bureau of Investigation. CBI has not changed its character," Trinamool Congress all-India general secretary Mukul Roy told reporters at the party headquarters here.

"CBI is not an autonomous organisation which works on its own. CBI works as a political organisation," Roy, a former Railway Minister, claimed.

Asked what was the party's contention about the opposition charge that Saradha Group-owned Saradha Tours and Travels had been unduly favoured by IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) Roy feigned ignorance saying "I am not aware of anything. The treaty was done before I took over. It must have been done through proper tendering process."

"There are a lot of organisations such as the CAG or the Railway Audit to look into the treaty," said Roy, who had taken over as Railway Minister after party MP Dinesh Trivedi was removed by TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.

Prior to Trivedi, Banerjee herself was the Railway Minister before she took over as West Bengal Chief Minister. Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha had yesterday said here that the Railways itself would not institute a separate probe into the alleged tie-up between IRCTC and Saradha Group-owned travel company as the CBI was investigating into the matter in its totality.

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