TMC, BJP trade charges on scams as state and central agencies corner politicians
The ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP are locked in a proxy battle via investigating agencies allegedly under their respective control.
In mid-June, when special director Rakesh Asthana told CBI officers in Kolkata to file final chargesheets in the Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley scam cases, it was apparent that the probes were being stepped up ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Witnesses were reportedly brought in to collate leads expected to help frame charges against senior TMC leaders. The CBI has included a 91-page letter and documents procured from Saradha-accused TMC parliamentarian Kunal Ghosh. A local industrialist, once close to the chief minister, was interrogated about the sale of paintings by Mamata Banerjee to several Kolkata-based businessmen, including Saradha Group chairman Sudipta Sen
TMC LEADERS ALLEGE IT’S A BJP BID TO CREATE A CONTROVERSY AROUND MAMATA AHEAD OF 2019
and Rose Valley’s Gautam Kundu. Former TMC leader Mukul Roy has reportedly told investigators that the proceeds from the paintings were parked in a special bank account controlled by a core team of party leaders.
TMC leaders, on the other hand, believe that it is part of a plan on the part of the BJP to create a controversy around Mamata in the run-up to the 2019 general elections. “Why [else] do you think the central agencies are calling Mukul Roy as a witness in the Saradha case?” asks a TMC MP. Though his name figures nowhere in the chit fund scam, the CBI has questioned Roy more than once, because he is a former close confidant of the CM as well as an erstwhile TMC general secretary. Until now, Ghosh was the only person to directly name Mamata in the Saradha scam. Even before his arrest in 2013, he posted on Facebook that the Saradha chairman had floated a media house to help Mamata become the prime minister.
An audio recording, leaked recently, is purported to be a phone conversation between Roy and BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, wherein Roy has named persons, including police officers, who could be questioned by the central probe agencies. Roy has also accused “Mamata Banerjee’s police” of illegal phone tapping. Shortly after the audio clip went viral on social media, the CBI summoned a number of police officers who were part of the SIT constituted by Mamata to probe the Saradha case. The CBI has alleged that these officers, who have also been accused of non-cooperation, tampered with or destroyed evidence. While the central agencies are closing in on TMC leaders, the state police, according to BJP state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar, are going all out to defame and arrest supporters. “Over a thousand of our workers are facing charges under narcotics cases and several hundred are accused in murder cases,” he says. Senior RSS functionary Jishnu Basu says some 750 BJP and Sangh supporters were rounded up before the recent panchayat polls. According to him, over a hundred RSS men were booked under the Arms Act for displaying weapons during the Ramnavami procession. Senior saffron leaders, including Dilip Ghosh, Shiv Prakash and Roopa Ganguly, have also been charged. Allegations of molestation and attempt to rape have been levelled against BJP national joint secretary Prakash and RSS leader Bidyut Mukherjee by a woman who had brought in charges of cheating and breach of trust against another RSS leader, Amalendu Chattopadhyay. “Implicating our leaders in socially embarrassing cases is a deliberate plan on the part of the TMC,” says Majumdar, who was booked in a fake jobs scam.
ART OF POLITICS A 2011 exhibition of paintings by Mamata in Kolkata