Kolkata: Terming the arrest of her Trinamool Congress collegue Madan Mitra by the CBI as BJP’s “political vendetta”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has called for a protest rally on Saturday.
Fuming after Madan Mitra’s arrest in the multi-crore-rupee Saradha chit fund scam by the CBI, Mamata said that her party would hold a protest rally where sportspersons will be present.
Daring Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take her into custody, the West Bengal CM said: “Sportspersons will protest. Because Madan Mitra has run the sports department really well.”
A fuming Banerjee accused the BJP of “misusing power”, and charged the CBI with “acting as per a sequence” of arrests given by a BJP leader during a rally here a few days ago.
“He (Mitra) was called as a witness. Within few hours he was arrested. Isn’t this political vendetta? What the CBI has done is wrong. It is illegal, unconstitutional,” she said.
Mamata said: “The situation in India is like Emergency now. We condemn all this. I will go to SSKM Hospital to meet Madan Mitra. I dare Narendra Modi and (BJP president) Amit Shah to arrest me. This is an open challenge.”
According to reports, the Trinamool rally will be organised at 1 PM at the base of the statue of legendary footballer Gostho Pal in central Kolkata’s Maidan area.
Meanwhile, the Opposition on Friday came down heavily on the West Bengal Chief Minister with the BJP demanding her resignation over the arrest of Madan Mitra in connection with the Saradha scam.
The opposition Left Front has decided to hold a rally at 2.30 PM from the feet of the Lenin statue to Moulali to press for a three-point charter of demands including the grilling of Banerjee by the CBI in relation to the scam.
“Banerjee knows everything about the scandal, but she tried to brush it under the carpet with the Special Investigation Team of the state police probing the scam,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretariat member Sujon Chakraborty.
He said: “We also demand the arrest of all culprits, and all arrangements made to return the money to those who lost their savings by parking their hard-earned money in ponzi schemes,” he said. Similar protests will be held across the state, he added.
Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra demanded immediate interrogation of the Chief Minister including others in the Saradha scam.
“Mamata Banerjee should be quizzed immediately in the Saradha scam,” Mishra, a CPI(M) Politburo member, said.
CPI(M) MP Mohammed Salim said, “Madan Mitra is not only a minister, but also a close aide of Mamata Banerjee. He was also a poster boy of the TMC in organising goons and youths for rallies.”
BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said the investigation was slowly leading to Banerjee’s doorstep and Madan Mitra’s arrest showed the TMC leadership was neck deep in the multi-crore scam.
Singh reportedly said: “Now the people of Bengal are getting impatient. They want more culprits to be arrested in the Saradha scam. Saradha owner and TMC top leadership were operating as a joint venture in Bengal.”
With several sports clubs deciding to hit the streets against the arrest of Madan Mitra, BJP state president Rahul Sinha said the CBI should also look into the accounts of these clubs.
A CBI spokesperson said Mitra was arrested on “prima facie evidence of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation as well as deriving undue financial benefits from the Saradha group”.
The 57-year-old minister was nabbed by the probe agency after hours of grilling spread over two sessions by CBI sleuths during the day at its office here.
Mitra was even hospitalised when he complained of illness. He first got admitted in a nursing home and later shifted to the government-run SSKM Hospital where he was said to have complained of a “panic attack”.
Upon his discharge from the hospital Nov 26, Mitra approached the CBI and expressed his desire to appear for questioning.
Mitra is the fourth Trinamool leader to be arrested after the scam came to light last year.
Earlier, suspended Trinamool leader and Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh was arrested by police in November last year, before the CBI nabbed parliamentarian Srinjoy Bose and party functionary Rajat Majumdar.
Ghosh had named many party colleagues, including Mitra, in a “tell-all” video after his arrest. He gave details of how and what relations they shared with Sen and his company and asserted they can help the investigators.
(With Agency Inputs)