Himansu Shekhar Rout

During the ongoing 2024 elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made the multi-crore chit fund scam a major issue against the BJD government in Odisha. It has promised to pay back the money to investors within one and a half years after coming to power. Congress also cornered the BJD government on the same issue.

Many wonder if the chit fund scam could be a game-changer for the two parties while the victims are still doubtful of getting back their money.  

Home Minister Amit Shah, during a roadshow in Cuttack, assured that chit fund victims will get back their money within one and a half years of the BJP coming to power. “After the BJP comes to power, all the leaders involved in the chit fund scam will be sent to jail,” said Shah. 

On the other hand, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, while addressing a press conference, lambasted the state government over the chit fund scam and exhorted people to overthrow the ‘corrupt’ government. “The mining and chit fund scams have given the BJD govt the identity of a corrupt govt. This time people will not give another chance to the BJD,” he added.    

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However, BJD leader Adhiraj Panigrahi retorted back saying, “The leaders tainted by the chit fund scam have been made candidates by the BJP. Naveen babu will be the Chief Minister for the sixth time.”  

As per reports, the scam by various ponzi companies in Odisha is said to be to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore and nearly 70 lakh investors have been duped. 

Sujata Das, one of the victims, lamented, “We have not yet got back our money. As elections come, they seek votes. But why should we vote for them?” 

Odisha Chit Fund Investigation Commission, led by Justice M.M. Das, was established in July 2013 to investigate the multi-crore chit fund scam and identify the duped investors. 

As per the Odisha Protection of Depositors’ Act -2011, victims are entitled to refunds from the money garnered through the confiscation of the property of the chit fund companies.   

Over 450 chit fund firms and 8.86 lakh victims

As per the interim report, the Odisha Chit Fund Investigation Commission had received applications from 8.86 lakh people duped by over 450 chit fund companies. 

Of the total chit fund applicants, 4.97 lakh are small investors while the government has claimed to have returned money to 2.38 lakh depositors with less than Rs 10,000 deposits. 

‘People will teach a lesson this time’

Jayanta Das, convener of the Chit Fund Khyatigrastha Jamakari Milita Manch said, “A corpus fund was formed 10 years ago, but nothing was returned to the victims. The assets of the chit fund companies have been sold off and the proceeds have not been shared with the victims. Time has come and the victims have made up their minds to teach the government a lesson.”

(By Odisha TV Bureau)