The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Trinamool Congress General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee for questioning in an alleged coal pilferage scam, PTI reported on Tuesday.
The central agency has asked the Diamond Harbour MP, who is also the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, to appear at its Kolkata office on September 2.
Summons have also been issued to Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law Maneka Gambhir to appear before the agency in New Delhi on September 5.
“We have to find out more details about Gambhir’s bank account in London through which several transactions were carried out,” an official told the news agency.
The development took place a day after Mamata Banerjee had accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of using central agencies and “ill-gotten money” to dislodge state governments run by other political parties.
The chief minister had also praised Abhishek Banerjee for delivering a good speech at the Trinamool Congress’ youth wing event and said, “I hope he is not summoned by a central agency tomorrow.”
On Tuesday, the Trinamool Congress criticised the BJP saying that its leaders are being summoned by the Enforcement Directorate yet again.
“After every successful show of AITC’s organisational strength, BJP gets rattled into action,” the party said in a tweet. “This shameful attempt to cow us down will not work! Our integrity will shine through your slander!”
The ruling party in West Bengal also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of being “so vengeful” and “so petty”.
Senior Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy alleged that the central investigative agencies are functioning arbitrarily. “The ED and CBI are the biggest allies of the BJP,” he added. “The saffron party cannot fight us politically and are, therefore, using the agencies to counter us.”
Banerjee had earlier appeared before the Enforcement Directorate officers twice, PTI reported. The Enforcement Directorate is looking into the money laundering aspect of the case, while the Central Bureau of Investigation is probing the criminal angle.
In July, the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a chargesheet against 41 persons. “They entered into a conspiracy and in pursuance of that, fraudulently misappropriated coal from the coal reserve of leasehold areas under the dominion of ECL [Eastern Coalfields Limited], and also from the coal stock parked in the Railway sidings for sale and supply,” the chargesheet stated.
Abhishek Banerjee, however, was not named in the chargesheet. Former general managers, former chief managers, former security and other officials of Eastern Coalfields Limited were named as the accused persons.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has said that its inquiry in the case hinted towards financial transactions of Rs 1,300 crore, the bulk of which went to several influential persons, according to PTI.