On Monday, Mamata Banerjee arrived at the CBI office in Kolkata as two of her ministers, Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim were arrested in the Narada bribery case.
TMC leaders detained by CBI
In the early hours of Monday, CBI arrested West Bengal Ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim in connection with the Narada case. The two were picked up from their homes in South Kolkata and taken to one of the CBI offices in the city.
Presently, Hakim is the transport minister, and also Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s right-hand, and on another side, Mukherjee is in charge of the Panchayat and the rural welfare department. It is believed that he is one of the most important ministers in the Cabinet.
On being taken to the CBI office, Hakim informed reporters that he was “being arrested”.
“I am being arrested for the Narada sting tapes. I will take it up in Court,” he said on route to the CBI office.
Seeing this situation, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee was furious and rushed to the 15th floor of the ‘Nizam Palace’ where the CBI has the office of its anti-corruption cell.
“The way they have been arrested without proper procedure, CBI will have to arrest me also,” Mamta Banerjee said in her 45 minutes at the CBI office.
CBI launched parallel raids and detained TMC heavyweights. Ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and MLA Madan Mitra in its probe on the Narada sting case.
— Poll Diary (@poll_diary) May 17, 2021
Two more are been arrested in the same case, Trinamool MLA Madan Mitra and former Trinamool leader Sovan Chatterjee. Sovan Chatterjee was Kolkata’s former mayor and senior minister. He had previously quit the Trinamool in 2019 and later had joined the BJP. Nevertheless, he quit the saffron party too this March.
Reason for arrest
It is reported that all four were ministers in the previous Mamata Banerjee government when the Narada bribery tapes were shot in 2014.
Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee took oath as ministers in the new Mamata Banerjee cabinet after she won a third straight term.
With the ongoing CBI arrests, the Trinamool Congress and other parties have objected to the timing of the arrests at the extent of Bengal’s Covid surge and right after Mamata Banerjee’s landslide victory in polls.
The arrest was made on the accusation of accepting Rs 4 to 5 lakh as bribes in a sting operation by the Narada news portal in 2014.
It is said that a journalist from Delhi came to Kolkata, pretended as a businessman planning to invest in Bengal, gave bundles of cash to seven Trinamool MPs, four ministers, one MLA, and a police officer as a bribe, and recorded the entire operation in a videotape.
With the arrests, CM Mamata Banerjee has begun a sit-in in CBI’s Kolkata office to protest the detention of four of her leaders.
Her spokesperson and lawyer Anindyo Raut told, “Didi (Banerjee) will not leave this CBI office until her party members are released or until she is also arrested.”
He said Mamata Banerjee told the CBI officers they have arrested the four leaders, among them two sitting and two former ministers, without the obligatory notice.
“These arrests are politically driven and illegal. Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy have been let off notwithstanding they faced the same charges,” Raut quoted Mamata Banerjee as saying.