State cabinet ministers and Senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders Firhad Hakim, Bratya Basu and Moloy Ghatak on Wednesday slammed the Opposition parties for alleging an exponential growth in the assets of some ruling party leaders and described their claims as misleading and half-truths.
Addressing a press conference in the Assembly complex, Hakim said TMC leaders named in the case had declared their sources of income while filing income tax returns.
“A misleading campaign is being carried out against us to malign our party’s image. The opposition parties are spreading half-truths. We have given a full declaration of our sources of income while filing income tax returns. There is nothing wrong if there is an increase in one’s income. I have a business of my own besides the salary and perks I get as a minister,” said Hakim.
The assets of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah have also increased, he added. While hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging exponential increase in the assets of certain ministers and Trinamool leaders, the Calcutta High Court on August 8 ordered that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) be made a party in the matter. The PIL was filed in February 2017, seeking an investigation into the increase in assets of ministers and leaders between 2011 and 2016, disproportionate to their known sources of income.
Hakim said he was “ashamed” to see the involvement of former state minister Partha Chatterjee in the School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam following his arrest by the ED. “This (Partha Chatterjee) is not the same person we knew for years. The TMC does not support this kind of attitude of a public representative. But that does not mean all TMC leaders are thieves.
Bratya Basu, who holds the education portfolio, said the court order has also mentioned the names of Congress and CPM leaders but TMC leaders and ministers are being selectively targeted to malign the image of the ruling party. “The media and the Opposition parties are deliberately omitting names of some leaders and targeting only those from the TMC, thus spreading half-truths,” said Basu. He then read out the names of Congress and CPM leaders mentioned in the court order.
Moloy Ghatak, the state Law Minister, claimed that there was “nothing unnatural” about the increase in assets as it was not illegal. “If you have a house, it is but natural that the property’s price will go up in five years. If you have a fixed deposit, its value is bound to increase due to accumulation of interest. We have declared everything to the income tax department. If there is something illegal, let the income tax department point it out,” said Ghatak. State
BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said that it is the guilty who shout the loudest.
“If the allegations against the TMC leaders are true the next cabinet meeting will be held in the Alipore jail as all these leaders will be behind the bars. The state government will fail to complete its full term till 2026,” said Majumdar.
CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “They have increased their assets illegally. The TMC leaders travel in expensive cars. Where do they get such a huge money from?”
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said they were ready to face investigation. “If there is anything against us then let there be a probe.”