The first among the TMC leaders to receive a notice from the ED is Arpita Ghosh

There was fear in the Trinamool Congress camp last year since the eruption of the Saradha scam, that it would cast its shadow on the party’s poll prospects in the panchayat elections. This was more so in view of the financial disaster that the scam had wreaked on the lives of the hapless investors, most of whom were from rural areas.

The government was swift in initiating measures, many of them questionable, like the move to create Rs 500-crore government corpus to refund money of duped investors.

A year on, in an unexpected turn of events, the scam has come back to haunt the Trinamool Congress and this time it is threatening to hit the party during the ongoing elections. “They are afraid of us ....they know that people are with us and they are trying to eliminate us by timing the Saradha investigations in this manner.” This has been Ms Banerjee’s refrain in election meetings since last week after the detention of Sudipto Sen’s wife and son by the Enforcement Directorate.

The first among the Trinamool leaders to receive a notice from the ED was Arpita Ghosh, a theatre personality and party candidate from Balurghat constituency which goes to the polls on Thursday. She was associated with one of the media wings of the Saradha Group.

In an unusual move, Finance Minister Amit Mitra, accompanied by Derek O Brien, party’s Rajya Sabha MP, told a hurriedly convened press meet on Sunday that a series of measures were taken by the Mamata Banerjee government including a Bill to curb such illicit fund raising organisations. That the party was jittery became clear in another press conference by Transport Minister Madan Mitra who made explosive comments against Centre and its agencies. For the party, the ‘Saradha wave’ is becoming a force to reckon with. From Sonia Gandhi to Left leaders, every one is raising the issue in a big way.

The fact remains that while Saradha became the most spectacular of such deposit raising companies to have fallen by the wayside, such companies have been flourishing in West Bengal and some eastern States for a long time.

However, if trends are any indication, Saradha is unlikely to dampen the poll prospects of the Trinamool Congress. But the ongoing investigations may open up a can of worms which the government had successfully capped in the last one year.