Mamata-CBI tussle: Anti-BJP Opposition backs TMC chief
Kolkata, Feb 4 (IBNS): In an apparent boost for the anti-Narendra Modi front, several opposition leaders, most of them who were seen at the Brigade rally on Jan 19, backed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's "sit-in" protest against the CBI's move to quiz Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar for allegedly tampering evidences of chit-fund scams.
The opposition leaders have ganged up against the BJP, which has been accused by Mamata of using federal probe agency to make political gains in West Bengal in the forthcoming General Elections.
Though West Bengal Congress criticised Mamata, party president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday late night tweeted, "I spoke with Mamata Di tonight and told her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her. The happenings in Bengal are a part of the unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Mr Modi & the BJP. The entire opposition will stand together & defeat these fascist forces."
I spoke with Mamata Di tonight and told her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 3, 2019
The happenings in Bengal are a part of the unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Mr Modi & the BJP.
The entire opposition will stand together & defeat these fascist forces.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo, Mayawati, who sent an emissary to Mamata's "United India" rally last month, had called the TMC supremo and extended her support.
Supporting the West Bengal Chief Minister, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief, Akhilesh Yadav, told media, "BJP can't win in West Bengal so they are trying to use CBI."
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief, Arvind Kejriwal, and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader, Tejashwi Yadav, are expected to arrive at Kolkata on Monday to share solidarity with the TMC supremo and support her protest in downtown Kolkata.
Accusing his former ally BJP of "destroying the institutions", Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telegu Desam Party (TDP) chief, N Chandrababu Naidu, tweeted, "We strongly condemn the incidents happening in Kolkata, a glaring example of how Modi-Shah duo are destroying the institutions. Attacking political opponents in different States, few days before the Parliament elections commence, will have disastrous consequences in the country."
We strongly condemn the incidents happening in Kolkata, a glaring example of how Modi-Shah duo are destroying the institutions. Attacking political opponents in different States, few days before the Parliament elections commence, will have disastrous consequences in the country.— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) February 3, 2019
"After opposition parties started uniting and started to fight together to save democracy, the Modi led BJP is losing all hope. The misuse of institutions by the union government to victimize political opponents in States is reaching dangerous proportions."
Reportedly, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief, Sharad Pawar, DMK chief MK Stalin have also supported Mamata.
National Conference (NC) leader, Omar Abdullah, tweeted "Just spoke to @MamataOfficial didi to convey the support of @JKNC_ as she sits in dharna. The use of the CBI as a political tool has crossed all limits as has the Modi government’s misuse of institutions. A former CM having such little regard for India’s federalism is shocking"
Just spoke to @MamataOfficial didi to convey the support of @JKNC_ as she sits in dharna. The use of the CBI as a political tool has crossed all limits as has the Modi government’s misuse of institutions. A former CM having such little regard for India’s federalism is shocking— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 3, 2019
BJP's Rajya Sabha MP, Subramanian Swamy, even said Mamata is now in an advantageous position in her battle against the CBI and BJP.
"I have seen her succeeding in such battles against the Communist Party. She has an advantage," Swamy said.
Backdrop of the protest:
Banerjee's dharna (sit-in protest) in Kolkata, which she commenced on Sunday to protest against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) move to enter the house of city police chief Rajeev Kumar to quiz him on chit funds scams, entered its second day on Monday.
The political development took place on Sunday after CBI officials went to Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar's house to quiz him over his alleged involvement in chit fund scams.
When the CBI officials reached Kumar's residence, they were whisked away by Kolkata police officers.
Mamata attacks Centre:
Apprehending imposition of presidential rule in the state, Mamata said: "They want to impose president's rule in all state where the opposition parties are ruling. If they want to impose Emergency let them do it."
She said the PM has gone 'mad' knowing he will not be re-elected and he is trying to 'break all constitutional institutions'. Mamata said she is ready to 'give up' her life. "I am ready to die to protect the country," she said.
The TMC chief directed her party members to start 'peaceful' protest across the state on Monday from 2 pm.
Attacking a collective Opposition, Union Minister and a BJP MP from West Bengal, Babul Supriyo, tweeted: "Shameful that the opposition raises a hue&cry forgetting that this is about a police officer who is accused of destroying& tampering evidence connected to a scam where almost 35000 crore belonging to the rural poor of WB, has been looted & muted by Mamtaji-blessed #TMchhi Netas"
Ball rolls in top court:
The central investigating agency on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the state government over its "non-cooperation".
The Supreme Court has asked the probe agency to produce evidence proving Kumar's alleged attempt to tamper evidences in the chit fund scams.
Rajeev Kumar: Development so far
Rajeev Kumar, who was seen emerging after Mamata met him, was wanted for questioning in connection with investigations into several ponzi scams.
He did not speak to media.
He had headed the special investigation team investigating into the Saradha and Rose Valley scams. Kumar has been accused of tampering with evidence to save several influential people in the state.
CBI defended their action. "As we found concrete evidences against Rajeev Kumar, we had summoned him. As he did not respond to our notices, our officers went to his residence in south Kolkata today to quiz him with all valid documents and paper-works," CBI joint commissioner Pankaj Kumar Srivastava told IBNS after probe agency officials were whisked away from the gate of the residence of Rajeev Kumar and detained in a police station when they went to his residence to quiz him on the Rose Valley and Saradha chit fund scams.
"After being directed by the Supreme Court, we are probing the chit fund cases. For last two years, we have repeatedly been sending notices to Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, asking him to appear before our investigators for interrogation as he was the chief of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) which was constituted by the state government and it probed the matter in preliminary stage," said Srivastava.
"After starting investigation, we found that several evidences were destroyed or misplaced," he said.
"As he did not respond to our notices, our officers went to his residence in south Kolkata today to quiz him with all valid documents and paper-works. Unfortunately, without cooperating with our officers, police manhandled them and detained them. We will take adequate legal steps against the actions of Kolkata Police," he said.
Counting the CBI, Praveen Tripathi, Jt CP, Crime, Kolkata Police, said: "Those CBI officers told us that they had gone to CP's house for a 'secret operation'. They failed to produce adequate documents relating to the raid or interrogation. When we asked them why they were here and what questions they wanted to ask, they could not give any answer."
Amid media reports that Kumar has not been attending his office for the past three days and has gone missing, the Kolkata Police earlier rubbished the reports and said in a statement: "Kolkata Police condemns and denies such baseless news. Please take note that not only is the CP Kolkata available in the city, but has also been attending office on a regular basis, with the exception of 31.1.19, when he was on leave for a day."
Kolkata Police Additional Commissioner of Kolkata Police Javed Shamim called a press conference to say the reports of Rajeev Kumar absconding are fake news and legal action would be taken against publications of the news. Kumar reportedly even did not attend a meeting with the Election Commission last week.