On Tuesday, the CBI arrested Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay in the Rs 17,000-crore Rose Valley scam, giving an all-new dimension to the conflict between Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and PM Narendra Modi over demonetisation, with the CM calling it “Trinamool-bandi after notebandi”.
The arrest immediately led to cries of “political vendetta” -with Mamata daring the Centre to “arrest all of us” -and triggered street fights after Trinamool workers laid siege to the state BJP headquarters in central Kolkata. Senior Trinamool leaders staged a dharna in front of the CBI’s Salt Lake office from where Bandyopadhyay was flown to Bhubaneswar later at night.
The MP himself called his arrest a “reward for good performance in Parliament”. Bandyopadhyay, a four-time MP and former Union minister, is the fifth and most high-profile Trinamool leader to be arrested in Ponzi scamrelated cases so far. On Friday, another party MP , Tapas Paul, was arrested in the same case.
Trinamool Congress MPs and state ministers visited the CBI regional office here to express “solidarity” with the arrested MP. Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien and Secretary General Partha Chatterjee threw their weights behind Bandyopadhyay. “We conveyed our solidarity,” West Bengal Minister Firhad Hakim said.
“Sudip da is absolutely fine. He is confident, he is healthy and he is happy. We are going to Delhi tomorrow. By doing all this, you cannot stop TMC and Mamata Banerjee,” said an agitated O’Brien. “We all met him today. We told him that we all are with him under Banerjee’s leadership and his family is also with him,” Chatterjee added.
According to CBI sources, Sudip did not offer satisfactory answers to the agency’s questions. Some of the queries were: Did he use his influence to boost the business of Rose Valley in any way; did Rose Valley owner Goutam Kundu help him buy his car; did he hold any post in Rose Valley and whether he did travel to Europe on Kundu’s money? CBI says Sudip did not have proper answer to most of the questions.
Stung by the arrest of Sudip, Mamata Banerjee accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using CBI, ED and Income-Tax department against those who raised voice against demonetisation.
“Sudip Bandyopadhyay is a very senior leader. He is the Trinamool Parliamentary Party leader. I can’t believe they have arrested Sudipda.From what I gather from my sources in the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI, instructions are coming from the top to go for our ministers and MPs -Abhishek Banerjee, Firhad Hakim (Bobby), Sovan Chatterjee, Subhendu Adhikari, Moloy Ghatak…. They are also after my family members. I dare them to arrest all of us. I know why they are doing this. They had put pressure on me to keep silent. But I didn’t buckle under pressure. I am committed to the people’s cause, come what may ,” Mamata said immediately after Bandyopadhyay’s arrest. TMC will launch dharnas to protest against Sudip’s arrest from Wednesday, she said, adding “politics cannot be done by resorting to vendetta”.
Late at night, Bandyopadhyay’s wife, Naina Bandyopadhyay and party leader Chandrima Bhattacharya filed police complaints against the CBI in Bidhannagar North PS and Anandapur PS alleging conspiracy and concealing of information.
The Trinamool chief didn’t spare the Left either. “All the chit-fund re the Left either. “All the chit-fund companies were set up in the Eighties when the Left was in power. I want to ask why (CPM leaders) Sujan Chakrabarty , Rabin Deb or Mohammed Selim are not being arrested. Why is the CBI silent on Babul Supriyo and Roopa Ganguly who were regulars on Rupashi Bangla channel (owned by the Rose Valley Group)? The central agency never questioned Congress MP Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury on why he gave a clean chit to the Rose Valley Group,” Mamata said in defence of her political-conspiracy theory.