Trinamool Congress workers on Wednesday held state-wide protests against the arrest of party legislator Sudip Bandyopadhyay in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam. Vehicles were left stranded along National Highway-2 after party workers blocked a stretch near Asansol. They also blocked a railway line in Cooch Behar.
Several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have also accused TMC workers of trying to break into their houses in Kolkata. The Home Ministry directed Kolkata’s police commissioner to ensure the safety of those whose premises have been attacked by alleged TMC cadres. The state party’s workers also allegedly set the BJP office in Hooghly on fire.
TMC leaders held protests in Delhi as well, where party members Kalyan Banerjee and Saugata Roy were detained by the police. State Finance Minister Amit Mitra walked out of a pre-Budget meeting in the Capital, claiming that the Union Budget had become meaningless in the wake of the financial emergency-like situation prevailing in the country because of demonetisation.
Meanwhile, Bandyopadhyay was produced before a court in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday afternoon. His lawyer had said the MP will seek bail on grounds of poor health. “He has some health issues, so we will produce medical documents in court,” advocate Rajdeep Majumdar said. The court rejected his bail plea though, sending him to six days of CBI custody.
He further added that there was no evidence to prove any of the “totally baseless” allegations against his client. Majumdar reiterated Trinamool’s stand that his arrest was part of a “political vendetta”. The CBI is investigating the Rose Valley chit fund scam as part of its larger inquiry into several national chit fund cases.
Trinamool vs CBI
Several complaints were filed against the CBI in connection with the arrest, including one by Bandyopadhyay’s wife. Nayna Bandyopadhyay registered a police complaint against the CBI on Wednesday, alleging that the agency did not inform her or any other family member about the TMC leader’s arrest or about where he was being taken.
Chandrima Bhattacharya, a leader of the state’s ruling party, also filed a complaint against the CBI with the state’s Anandpur Police over her colleague’s arrest. TMC MLAs are scheduled to meet West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Wednesday to raise the subject.
TMC workers attacked the BJP’s Kolkata office no Tuesday night after the arrest. State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed the arrest of her party MP was the Centre’s way to retaliate against her criticism of the demonetisation drive. “Political vendetta has reached a new low. I will not be surprised if they arrest all our MPs,” she said, adding that political parties were afraid to voice their opinion on the currency ban.
BJP, however, dismissed Banerjee’s claims. “Let Mamata Banerjee say anything on Sudip Bandyopadhyay’s arrest; the law will take its own course,” said party leader Siddharth Nath Singh. The chief minister had earlier announced that her party would launch agitations in Delhi and across West Bengal on Wednesday in protest against the MP’s arrest.
The Rose Valley scam
Earlier, the CBI had accused Rose Valley Chairman Gautam Kundu and three others of defrauding investors from across the country of more than Rs 17,000 crore. In its chargesheet, the agency had said it was still investigating the role of “influential people” and uncovering money trails in the case. Another TMC leader, Tapas Pal, was sent to CBI custody on December 30 for his involvement in the scam. His remand was extended by three days on Tuesday. The CBI had summoned both Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Pal on December 27.