West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday ordered an investigation into the sting operation conducted by website Narada News, in which several leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress were implicated. A team of Kolkata police headed by Commissioner Rajeev Kumar will conduct the investigation, The Indian Express reported.
However, experts have questioned the legality of Banerjee's actions. Since the Calcutta High Court has been hearing several pleas in the issue, the chief minister's move may amount to interference in the judicial process, legal experts told The Indian Express.
Banerjee has maintained that the sting operation was a conspiracy to hurt her party’s image before the elections. “We are transparent, and those behind it should be exposed. The police will conduct an impartial probe, and the guilty will be punished,” she said, adding that the Assembly speaker had given his permission for the investigation.
However, Opposition parties believe Banerjee’s move is an attempt to destroy evidence and cover up the incident. TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim, who is one of those implicated in the matter, welcomed the investigation, saying he wanted the truth to be revealed.
In March, weeks before the first phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections, Narada News released videos that purportedly showed several TMC leaders accepting cash in return for promising to grant favours to a fictitious company. The Lok Sabha’s ethics committee had sought an explanation from the five TMC MPs implicated in the sting operation, and the Calcutta High Court had set up a three-member committee to keep evidence from the Narada News investigation “in safe custody”.