Post-election slugfest between TMC and BJP in West Bengal gathers steam - latest News of India Today

Post-election slugfest between TMC and BJP in West Bengal gathers steam

TMC calls CBI arrests in the Narada scam a “political vendetta” by the BJP. TMC leaders say top BJP politicians involved in the scam have been “conveniently left out”.
First Published: May 18,2021 12:35PM
by The Probe

The CBI on Monday arrested top TMC leaders in the Narada scam. Following the arrest, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stormed into the CBI office in Nizam palace in Kolkata and dared the CBI to arrest her too.

In the list of arrested men were two of her top ministers, Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim and her party MLA Madan Mitra. Former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who had earlier quit the TMC to join the BJP and who again quit the BJP this year over differences with the party was also arrested by the CBI in connection with the scam.

The arrests took place after West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar issued a prosecution sanction to the CBI to nab the four men. The arrests sparked protests across West Bengal over what the TMC claims as “politically motivated action” by the CBI at the behest of the BJP. Top TMC leaders were seen protesting in Kolkata questioning the CBI over why two BJP leaders whose names also figured in the Narada scam and who were equally culpable were not arrested.

TMC followers are seen protesting in West Bengal following the arrest of the Trinamool Congress leaders | Special arrangement

TMC followers are seen protesting in West Bengal following the arrest of the Trinamool Congress leaders | Special arrangement

The BJP men under scanner – who the TMC claims the CBI conveniently left out – were BJP leader Suvendhu Adhikari who had defeated Mamata Banerjee in the recent West Bengal elections and BJP National Vice President Mukul Roy. The Probe spoke to the man who broke the Narada scam in 2016, Mathew Samuel – former Managing Editor of Tehelka and Founder of the online news portal Narada news – to find out who exactly figured in his original sting operation that was released ahead of the 2016 West Bengal elections.

TMC followers are seen protesting in West Bengal following the arrest of the Trinamool Congress leaders | Special arrangement

TMC followers are seen protesting in West Bengal following the arrest of the Trinamool Congress leaders | Special arrangement

Mathew Samule said: “The Governor gave the sanction for prosecution but I was shocked when I heard the news. Why Suvendhu Adhikari was left out. See, the tapes were forensically tested and cleared. Suvendhu Adhikari received 5 lakhs from me and it can be clearly seen in the tapes. He also admitted to the CBI and ED that he received money from me. Why wasn’t he arrested by the CBI?”

In the Narada sting operation, Samuel posed as a businessman and stung several politicians of the TMC. The tapes, which were released in his online news portal Narada News in 2016 allegedly showed several politicians and a high ranking police officer accepting bribes in exchange for providing illegal favours to a company. Samuel told The Probe that in the last many years, he was summoned by the CBI and the ED more than 50 times yet the case hasn’t seen a closure.

He said: “I have been harassed so much for the expose. I had to eventually shut down my portal but see what has happened. Successful governments have been playing politics over this case. The case of BJP National Vice President Mukul Roy is a little different. He told me on a spy camera that I have to handover money to SP Mirza who was the SP of Burdwan at that time. I handed over the money but that exact thing I couldn’t record because there was a technical problem with the spy cam and there were some security issues as well but this Mirza apparently admitted to the CBI that he had indeed handed over the money to Mukul Roy.”

After calling the CBI action vendetta driven, the TMC leaders have now trained their guns on the journalist who broke the story. Speaking to the media, TMC MP Aparupa Poddar who is an accused in the Narada scam and who also purportedly figured in the 2016 sting operation accepting money said: “The person who did this sting operation, Mathew Samuel, why has he not been arrested? We want him to be arrested. He is the main person. He went to all the people and he has accepted this. Arrest him and ask him why did he bring the money, why did he give the money and where did he get the money from. BJP is trying to play a political game to put the TMC in crisis. BJP should answer why the leaders who went from TMC to BJP have not been arrested?”

On Monday, the TMC supporters from across the State also protested demanding the immediate resignation of the West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar. Just a day before the West Bengal Cabinet member’s swearing-in ceremony on May 10th, the Governor’s office issued a press release saying that the Governor had invoked his powers under Article 163 and 164 of the Constitution to accord prosecution sanction against the 4 persons.

The press release also states: “The news in the media that sanction has come to be accorded because these persons at the relevant time were members of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly is factually untenable. The premise of the sanction as indicated is that these persons at the relevant point of time of commission of crime were holding the position of ministers in the Government of West Bengal.”


Following the growing protests in the State, the Governor has called upon the Chief Minister to follow constitutional norms and the rule of law. Terming the developments “suspicious”, President of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said “West Bengal today is in the grip of Covid. People are desperate. There is no oxygen, or  treatment, or ventilator, or vaccine. Yet when the BJP must be serving people at this critical time they are indulging in such arrests. This raises a lot of questions”.


Going on the defensive, BJP has said that law has taken its course in West Bengal and it is Mamata Banerjee who is threatening law enforcement agencies and creating hurdles for the CBI. The post-election political slugfest between the TMC and the BJP has just begun in West Bengal and it looks like it will only gather more steam in the coming days.


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