Kolkata: Barely two weeks after the CBI registered an FIR in the Narada sting operation case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed another case on Friday to probe its money laundering aspect.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee faced the biggest embarrassment in her political career after a news portal captured footage of 12 leaders from her party – MPs, MLAs, ministers and the Kolkata mayor – accepting money from the representative of a fictitious finance company.
Officials told media that the CBI has details of the payment, including the number of the currency notes given to each person seen in the footage. The ED will also trace the money trail, which includes information on where the money came from and reached Naradanews.com CEO Mathew Samuel, and what the Trinamool Congress did with the cash.
Incidentally, Samuel told the CBI that the entire operation was funded by Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP KD Singh.
The faces seen in the video include prominent Trinamool leaders such as Lok Sabha MPs Saugata Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sultan Ahmed, Aparupa Poddar, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee; ministers Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim and Madan Mitra; MLA Iqbal Ahmed; Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee; and SMH Mirza, the IPS officer who allegedly took the money on behalf of party MP Mukul Roy.
The Trinamool leaders have been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Banerjee described the Narada sting as a political conspiracy hatched to derail her success in the 2016 Bengal assembly elections. “They are letting loose central agencies like the CBI on Trinamool. They want to put our leaders in jail. They are afraid that we might come to Delhi,” she said in a public meeting at Alipurduar in north Bengal on Thursday.
After the CBI registered a case in keeping with an order by the Calcutta high court, the Bengal chief minister alleged that the Modi government was using the central probe agency against the Trinamool Congress to punish her for opposing the demonetisation exercise.
However, BJP president Amit Shah trashed her allegations during his three-day trip to Bengal. “Everybody has seen Trinamool leaders taking bribes on television, but they are still saying it’s a conspiracy,” he said.
Incidentally, the ED is also investigating a politically sensitive chit fund scam case – which involves a number of high-profile commercial entities such as Saradha, Rose Valley and I-Core – along with the CBI.