NEW DELHI: West Bengal saw another day of high-voltage political drama as CBI arrested two Trinamool ministers and one party leader in the Narada sting operation case evoking strong reaction from chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Mamata Banerjee not only led the protest against the arrests with a sit in at the CBI office but also offered to court arrest.
Banerjee sat on a dharna from 11am to around 5pm demanding the release of the TMC leaders, who were later granted bail by a court.
Outside the CBI office in Nizam Palace, TMC party supporters raised slogans against the BJP-led NDA government, and hurled stones and bricks at security the personnel.
The CBI on Monday morning arrested state ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, TMC MLA Madan Mitra as well as former minister Sovan Chatterjee in connection with the Narada sting case in which politicians were purportedly caught taking money on camera.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had recently granted sanction to prosecute all the four leaders, following which the probe agency finalised its chargesheet and moved to arrest them.
TMC activists stage protest
Hundreds of TMC activists took out protest rallies across West Bengal, thumbing their noses at lockdown regulations, to protest against the arrest of two state ministers, an MLA, and a former party leader in connection with the Narada sting case.
Many of them were seen demonstrating outside the central agency’s office here and Raj Bhavan, prompting the police to push them back.
The agitators, waving TMC flags, raised slogans outside Raj Bhavan against Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.
At the CBI’s Nizam Palace office, the TMC supporters broke barriers set up before the main gate and took to sloganeering against Union home minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Some of them hurled stones and plastic bottles at the security personnel posted outside the agency office.
In several other areas, including Arambagh in Hooghly district and Kamarhati in North 24 Parganas, the protesters burnt tyres and blocked roads, demanding immediate release of party leaders.
TMC seeks action against CBI officials, says arrests ‘illegall’
The Trinamool Congress wrote to Kolkata police commissioner Soumen Mitra seeking “necessary action” under the law against the CBI officials who arrested three senior party leaders “illegally”.
Minister and president of West Bengal Trinamool Mahila Congress Chandrima Bhattacharya wrote the letter on behalf of her party and urged the city police chief to treat it as an FIR.
She alleged that leaving its “independent character”, the probe agency is acting at the behest of the Centre and arrested them at the “direction” of state governor Jagdeep Dhankhar who has no authority to give such an order.
Bhattacharya claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are behind the entire episode.
They want to “malign our leaders in some way or the other as the BJP has failed to win the assembly election, she alleged.
Don’t know why CBI went to Governor: Speaker
Speaker Biman Banerjee said, “In the Narada case, the Calcutta high court clearly asked the CBI whether it had taken permission from the speaker. The court directed the investigating agency to seek permission from the speaker. But there has been no communication from the CBI. It is not that the post of speaker was vacant. I was in my office.
“I don’t know, for a reason unknown to me, they went to the governor who gave them the permission. The governor cannot give such permission. I think this permission is illegal and to arrest someone on the basis of it is also illegal. The court will take its decision, but as a lawyer I can say that the CBI has not worked legally.”
CBI court grants bail to leaders
A special CBI court granted bail to the four arrested by the central investigating agency in connection with the Narada sting tape case.
Special CBI court judge Anupam Mukherjee directed that each of the four persons will have to pay two sureties of Rs 25,000 each as bail bonds.
The four leaders were also directed to meet the investigating officer in the case once a fortnight till further orders and to co-operate with him.
Governor asks Mamata to follow ‘rule of law’
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar asked chief minister Mamata Banerjee to follow ‘constitutional norms’ and ‘rule of law’. Dhankhar also asked the Kolkata police to control the law-and-order situation in the city.
“Concerned about the alarming situation. Call upon @MamataOfficial to follow constitutional norms & rule of law. Police @WBPolice @KolkataPolice @HomeBengal must take all steps to maintain law & order. Sad — situation is being allowed to drift with no tangible action by authorities,” the governor tweeted after violence erupted in front of the gate of the CBI regional office at Nizam Palace on Monday morning.
Man behind Narada sting operation questions why Suvendu not arrested
Senior journalist Mathew Samuel whose brainchild was the Narada sting operation, said he is satisfied with the CBI arrests but expressed surprise that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did not arrest former TMC minister Suvendu Adhikari, another accused in the same case who has joined the BJP.
Samuel said that steps against corruption are needed and investigations should be fair.
The sting operation was conducted by Samuel of Narada News, a web portal, in 2014 wherein some people resembling TMC ministers, MPs and MLAs were seen receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in lieu of favours.
Politically motivataed, say Trinamool leaders
Reacting to the arrests, TMC spokesman Kunal Ghosh claimed that the CBI action was a vengeful act and a fallout of the BJP’s loss in the West Bengal assembly elections.
“The BJP is still not able to accept defeat in the polls after having made an all-out attempt to win… This is a reprehensible act.
“When the state is fighting the Covid situation, they are trying to create disturbances in such a manner,” he said.
The ruling party MP Sougata Roy said this was a “vengeful and vindictive” decision by the central government.
“The CBI action is politically motivated,” said TMC MLA Tapas Roy.