Tuesday saw high drama in West Bengal as the state police searched for a Bharatiya Janata Party leader to arrest him in a drug case.
Rakesh Singh’s name had been linked with the seizure of 100 grams of cocaine allegedly from the car of Pamela Goswami – who is also a BJP leader.
Singh first refused to surrender to the police, telling them that he needed to go to Delhi to do some work for the BJP. In the meanwhile, he filed a petition with the Calcutta High Court, asking it to quash the police order asking him to appear before them. The petition was dismissed by the court.
While the petition was being heard, the police visited Singh’s house in Kolkata. There they were stopped by Singh’s two sons, who refused to let the policemen into the house. More drama followed, as the police surrounded the building. “If you are in a hurry, break down our door,” the recalcitrant son told the police.
After hours of this stand-off, the police entered the house once the petition had been dismissed. However, Singh himself was on the run. He was tracked down after the police made one of his sons call him, thus allowing the authorities to identify the tower location of his mobile phone, The Telegraph reported.
The BJP leader was eventually detained in Galsi, a town three hours from Kolkata. The police claimed he was trying to flee the state with the help of central paramilitary forces.
BJP vs BJP
These events followed the arrest in Kolkata on Friday of Pamela Goswami, state secretary of the party’s youth wing, with 100 grams of cocaine. Before joining the BJP in 2018, Goswami had been a fashion model and actor. As she was whisked away, Goswami tried to make a last ditched political play, shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” for the news cameras.
After the arrest, the BJP cried foul, alleging that Goswami had been framed. “The elections are near, and the model code of conduct is yet to be enforced,” said Samik Bhattacharya, the BJP’s state spokesperson. “The police are now under the control of the chief minister. We also need to keep these in mind.”
However, new developments soon put the BJP on a sticky wicket. In a dramatic scene on Saturday, as Goswami, she blamed not the Trinamool but leaders of the BJP itself. “I want a probe by the CID [West Bengal police’s elite Criminal Investigation Department],” Goswami screamed to the media as she was led to the court under police custody. “Arrest Rakesh Singh, close aide of Kailash Vijayvargiya. This is a conspiracy.”
Vijayvargiya is the national general secretary of the BJP and the party’s central observer for West Bengal.
To add to this, Goswami’s father wrote to the police, characterising his daughter as a “drug addict”.
The Telegraph reported that the police’s initial investigation seemed to support Goswami’s allegation having found evidence suggesting Singh had planted the cocaine in her car.
Mirroring the national media frenzy after the death by suicide of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June, the media in West Bengal has gone into a moral panic around the use of drugs. For much of Tuesday, viewers of Bengali news channels were fed live visuals of the police’s hunt for Rakesh Singh.
With the BJP floundering, the ruling Trinamool Congress has taken this opportunity to attack the opposition party further. “Earlier, we saw the involvement of several BJP leaders in child trafficking, and now drug trafficking,” said state minister and senior Trinamool Congress leader Chandrima Bhattacharya. “Every time they cannot cry conspiracy. It’s a shame that their women leaders are involved in such illegal activities.”