A day after ordering a probe into the Narada sting, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee asserted that her party had not taken “a single penny” from anyone in the Saradha chit fund scam and the Narada sting operation, which she alleged, were conspiracies by the Opposition.
Addressing a TMC workers’ workshop, which was attended by Narada sting accused leaders Firhad Hakim, Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy, Mamata said there were doubts that needed to be investigated.
Dismissing the allegations levelled against TMC leaders in the Narada sting operation as an attempt to “blackmail” the party, Mamata said, “You (TMC leaders) did not call anyone on your own. Someone asked for an appointment and then they came to meet you. During that appointment you yourself kept the money on my table and took pictures. I didn’t ask for money, neither did I call you. Why did you come to my place?…You yourself came and said you want to give money and you then try to blackmail. We want to know how much money is being raised through such kind of blackmailing. We want to know the truth behind it. From Saradha to Narada, Trinamool Congress has not taken a single penny from anyone.”
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The Chief Minister had on Friday ordered a probe by Kolkata Police into the Narada sting operation, in which five Trinamool Lok Sabha MPs and one Rajya Sabha MP were purportedly shown accepting money in return for promising to grant favours to a fictitious company.
“Is it that Suvendu Adhikari can’t eat and he needs to take money to run his family, Firhad Hakim can’t eat and he needs to take money to survive? Their families have also faced humiliation because of this. Who are they to conduct such sting operations, do they have any license to conduct such operations?,” Mamata asked.
Mamata also questioned the source of money used in the sting operation.
According to party insiders, Mamata believed that the Narada sting operation was an attempt by Opposition to tarnish the party supremo’s image. “(Narada) was the only thing the party had. Even the Opposition hadn’t said that party leaders are corrupt. The question they had raised is that if they are taking money, then could Mamata really not know. Her image is what makes or breaks the party and everyone knows it,” party sources said.
The Chief Minister also accused the Centre of pursuing vindictive politics and using central agencies like the CBI and the ED to terrorise people in the non BJP-ruled states. “They are terrifying everybody by using the CBI, ED or the Income Tax Department. In states which have no BJP governments they are using the three central agencies against them,” Mamata said.
The CM also ticked off BJP for “selling” the country in the name of “Make In India”. “They don’t care for the values and principles of the country,” she alleged.
Mamata indirectly accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to take credit for everything positive happening in Bengal and “spreading lies”. “(Modi is)sitting back and tweeting about our achievements and trying to take credit. There should be a limit to telling lies,” she said, asking her party MPs to expose the Centre’s lies on the floor of Parliament.
Attacking the CPM and Congress for protesting only in West Bengal against the hike in fuel prices, Mamata said, “Everyday the prices of fuel are increasing. And whenever the fuel prices are increasing CPM and Congress are protesting. Why are they not protesting against it in Delhi? They have their offices in Delhi.”
She accused the BJP of trying to flare up communal passions in the country. “The Congress and CPM too have joined them.”
During the party workshop, Mamata warned Trinamool leaders against “factionalism”, which she held responsible for the loss of 15-20 seats in the recent Assembly elections. She named leaders such as state minister Purnendu Bose, Bidhanagar Municipal Corporation Mayor Sabyasachi Dutt, TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and TMC MLA Sujit Bose in her stern reminder and asked them to refrain from infighting in the Rajarahat- New Town area of North-24 Parganas district.
“There are certain leaders such as Biplab Mitra of South Dinajpur. It is because of his infighting with other leaders that had led to our loss in a few seats in that district. In Malda we have lost because of the feudal mindset of certain leaders. I think such leaders should now take rest and new leaders should take over in the district,” she said
Mamata also warned of stern action against those who were trying to use party platforms to serve personal interests.
[with PTI inputs]