Probe Coun­ter­probe

TMC, BJP trade charges on scams as state and cen­tral agen­cies cor­ner politi­cians

India Today - - STATES - By Romita Datta

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


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

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