Three top leaders of Trinamool Congress, Firhad Hakeem, Subrata Mukherjee (both ministers) and Madan Mitra (MLA) and former Mayor of Calcutta, Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by a team of the Central Bureau of Investigation in Kolkata on Monday (May 17).
A large number of TMC supporters soon gathered outside the office of the CBI and pelted stones on it compelling the police to use mild lathi-charge to disperse the mob. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee also rushed to the Nizam Palace, the office of the investigative agency.
The arrest, according to the CBI sources, has been made in the Narada Bribery case of 2016. The TMC supporters are alleging that the Bharatiya Janata Party is indulging in the politics of vendetta as the saffron party had suffered a humiliating defeat in the recently held Assembly poll. The TMC alleges that the CBI is dancing to the tune of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah and using the excuse of corona virus to arrest these leaders.
It was only on May 16 that the Mamata Banerjee government had imposed a lockdown in the state following the steep rise in the number of cases of COVID-19.
Besides, the arrest came when Mamata was yet to recover from the shock of the death of her brother, Ashim, who succumbed to corona virus on May 15.
On the other hand, the West Bengal unit president of the BJP, Dilip Ghosh, claimed that the central agency is simply doing its own work.
Meanwhile, the state Speaker Biman Banerjee termed the arrest as unconstitutional as the permission of the Speaker should be sought before arresting any legislator. In contrast, the sanction of the governor was taken in this case.
Interestingly, the CBI has not arrested two top BJP leaders Suvendhu Adhikari and Mukul Roy whose name prominently figured in the scam. When the scam was unearthed in 2016, they were in the TMC.
In the meantime, the journalist who carried the sting operation, Mathew Samuel, while talking to the NDTV wondered as to why Suvendhu was not arrested as in the past he had confessed before the CBI that he had received Rs five lakh from Samuel, who posed himself as a businessman. Samuel said that he had evidence of Suvendhu accepting the bribe.
Political observers are of the view that they both had crossed over to the BJP only because of this very reason.