Two days after he was grilled by the CBI in connection with the Saradha financial scam, Trinamool Congress leader Asif Khan quit the ruling party “on advise of religious leaders” of his community.
Khan, reportedly a close associate of All India TMC general secretary Mukul Roy, said the ruling party was “not clean” and announced formation of a new party for the minority community.
“I am quitting Trinamool Congress as I was advised by the religious leaders of my community (to do so). I and our people would not be there in the party until TMC comes clean on Saradha issue. Our people can consider the party clean only when the leaders against whom several allegations have been levelled (pertaining to the chit fund scam) get a clean chit from the CBI,” Khan said.
The leader was earlier a member of Siddiqullah Chowdhury-led PDCI, which later merged with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). “In 2008, I realised that Chowdhury had active links with CPM. I left that party and after few months I had joined TMC,” Khan added.
Khan claimed that he had joined the TMC “to work for my community”. “I was in the minority cell of the TMC but I saw that our brothers from minority community could not be accommodated at important positions in the party. People who hold important positions in the minority cell do not have any connection with the grassroots,” he said while announced that is floating a new party— Tahafuz-e-Islam” and has applied for its registration. He claimed the proposed party has already got 55,000 members.
The TMC leader had gone “underground” for several months and surfaced only after the CBI conducted a search operation at his residence last month in connection with Saradha scam. The agency Monday grilled him for eight hours. He again appeared before the CBI sleuths on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Khan claimed he he never had any links with the Saradha Group. “I run a newspaper, which does not have any connection with the Saradha Group. When I started the newspaper in May, 2013, Saradha had already went bust. The newspaper is for the people of my community,” he said.
Contacted minister in Mamata Banerjee cabinet and the Muslim face of the TMC, Firhad Hakim, claimed that Khan “was nobody in the TMC. He is just a businessman”.
Without naming Mukul Roy, Hakim said, “Khan might have some personal relations with a senior leader in the party. But there was no political relation between TMC and Khan”.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee, meanwhile, said that he does not know Khan. Incidentally, Khan was appointed the election observer in Uttar Pradesh for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He he had claimed to have resigned from the post a while later.