West Bengal Opposition leader from the Congress Abdul Mannan on Sunday continued his attack against CM Mamata Banerjee saying the people would not tolerate it if the Centre allowed her to go scot-free in alleged corruption cases. The statement is in contrast to the Congress high command’s position, which had earlier supported Mamata after TMC MPs were arrested in connection with Rose Valley chit fund case. Mannan was instrumental in building the Saradha chit fund case against the TMC.
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Bengal Congress leaders said that despite the central leadership’s “bonhomie” with the TMC, nothing had changed on the ground. They sought to differentiate state politics from national politics.
Mannan, on Sunday, alleged that by stating that she would accept a BJP central government, with anyone but PM Narendra Modi at its head, Mamata had proved that she “was and will always be” in cahoots with the BJP. He alleged Mamata and Modi had benefitted from various industrialists and agreed to go slow on investigations into the chit fund cases.
Stopping short of demanding Mamata’s arrest, he said, “If Modi, once again, saves Mamata Banerjee, the people of Bengal will not tolerate this.” After TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay was arrested by the CBI, Mamata received support from Congress leader Ahmed Patel.
The Congress then accused Modi of “vendetta politics”. Party communication department head Randeep Surjewala claimed investigating agencies were being “pushed” and “subjected to pressure” by the prime minister and his office to “unleash vendetta against opponents”. “From the day Mamata Banerjee held a joint press conference with Rahul Gandhi and other Opposition leaders, a new wave of vendetta has been unleashed by Modi.
The other day when Trinamool MP Tapas Paul was arrested, he named Union minister Babul Supriyo in connection with the chit fund scam. Did Modi arrest Supriyo? Did the CBI even call him for questioning? The arrest of Sudip Bandyopadhyay is nothing but the same step in the same chain of events to unleash vendetta, revenge and suppress the opposition,” Surjewala had said.
In political circles, it is believed that Mannan’s victory in the 2016 Assembly elections from south Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress had made rapid dents into the Opposition camp, was entirely due to his image as the “man who lit the Saradha fire”. It was his PIL, which eventually reached the Supreme Court, and prompted a CBI probe into the matter.
The BJP, has been quick to point this out when alleged TMC workers attacked their offices after the arrests of MP Sudip Bandyopadhya. “It was the Congress that had approached the Supreme Court about the Saradha scam? When Rahul Gandhi had come, he had raised the issue of the Saradha chit fund scam and demanded that it be properly investigated. Then why target the BJP?” asked BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya
Meanwhile, a senior Congress leader explained that in spite of the TMC-Congress bonhomie at Delhi, nothing has changed just yet in Bengal. “The Left and the Congress alliance (in the state) is intact,” he said.