Released from prison Saturday morning after being incarcerated for over 21 months in connection with the multi-crore Saradha scam, Trinamool Congress leader Madan Mitra Saturday said he would follow “whatever instructions” Mamata Banerjee assigns him even as the Chief Minister refused to take questions on the release of her former cabinet colleague. “Whatever (duty) Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assigns me, I will follow her instructions. I want to see a new Bengal emerging under her… To see the BMWs and the Tatas investing in the state,” Mitra said after his release from Alipore Central Jail early morning.
Asked about his immediate priorities, Mitra said: “I am tired and want to take rest now. I want to spend time with my family, my wife, my sons and my grandson. For two years I have not seen (Durga) Ma. This year I will enjoy Durga Puja with my family.” Meanwhile, Mamata, who returned this morning from her eight-day visit to the Vatican and Germany, refused to take questions on Mitra. However, Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who had been travelling with Mamata, said Mitra’s arrest was “politically motivated”.
Mitra, then Sports and Transport Minister, was arrested by CBI in December 2014. He was granted bail Friday on two sureties of Rs 15 lakh each while being directed to appear before the court on November 23, surrender his passport to CBI and appear before its investigating officer once every week. He was directed not to leave Bhowanipore police station jurisdiction area. As he came out of jail around 6:45am, Mitra was welcomed by supporters, party and family members. He later moved to a hotel at Elgin Road in the Bhowanipore police station area as per the conditions set by the court for granting him bail. Mitra’s residence is within the Kalighat police station limits.
Even though he was in jail, TMC had nominated him as the party candidate from his Kamarhati constituency in the Assembly elections earlier this year. He contested from jail and lost. While moving the bail plea, Mitra’s counsel argued that he was no longer an “influential person” and that “he has lost his ministry and MLA position, so where is the influence as claimed by the CBI?”.
Declining to comment on CBI terming him as an “influential” person and planning to challenge his bail in Calcutta High Court, Mitra said, “The court will see into it… My counsel will explain this in the court. I am a lone man these days. I have nobody beside me.” “I will not comment anything more as I am unwell since the past 20 months and my doctors have prescribed me not to engage into any kind of political debate,” he added.
Mitra, however, insisted he had done nothing wrong. “I have never done anything wrong. My only fault was that I was young and inexperienced. But in the last 21 months I have gained the experience of 21 years.” The former minister said he was a civilised person and would abide all the conditions set by the court. “I’ll not break the law. I will extend my assistance to CBI and will appear whenever and wherever they want me to appear,” he said, adding he has full faith in judiciary and was hopeful of getting justice and that his innocence would be proved.
Before shifting to the hotel, Mitra said he was happy to be with his family. “I feel so good coming out of jail after such a long time. Kolkata seems to be almost a new place to me.I have not seen it for 20 months,” he said.
Mitra, who was arrested on December 12, 2014, was granted bail by a lower court last year. He had surrendered before the court after his bail was cancelled by Calcutta High Court on November 20 last year. Former Union minister Matang Sinh is among those arrested in the case, while several TMC functionaries, including Mamata’s close aide Mukul Roy, have been questioned in connection with it. CBI had taken over the investigation in June, 2014 on the order of the Supreme Court.